My Mom

THIS IS THE PAGE WHERE EVERY DAY IS . . .

One of the songs my mom used to sing around the house, perfect MUSICA for Mother’s Day. 

There she is now, darling little girl, in Sioux City, Iowa where she was born, with her Christmas doll, her two brothers, my Uncles Bob and Dick.  Honestly, that sweet face you see is the one I grew up with.

My mom adored dolls, and the very second she had the chance, she got herself a real baby all her own.

Me.  Her own real live doll.  Now she could dress the baby and feed the baby (and comb the baby’s hair) and it moved and drooled and cooed.  She had her own Betsy Wetsy.  She was 17 years old.  And I was the lucky girl who got her for a mom.

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That’s my Frank Sinatra-ish dad (the “blogdaddy” you know so well, on his best behavior in this photo) holding my brother Jim — Jim came thirteen months after me and became one of my very best friends. (I kind of think of him as my first child.)   My beautiful mom is eighteen, Uncle Dick is seventeen, and that’s my Grandma on the right.

By now I was my mom’s partner in crime, the “other mother.”  These were “our” children.  That’s Jim and our second boy Stephen with my Uncle Dick.  The outfits, which I am sure Dick just loved, because what twenty-one-year-old boy doesn’t want to dress like a four-year-old, were from my great-aunt Josephine.  I thought Dick looked like Elvis Presley.

baby face

My mom taught me how to play games on baby faces, and then I drew them into my BABY LOVE book.

This is me and brother number three, Chuckie.  I could knock on the wall of my bedroom and he would climb out of his crib and come sleep with me.  Terrible picture of him because he was truly the cutest of them all, as you will see in the next photo.  He was over ten pounds when he was born and I think he got a little smashed.

Well, maybe not this picture, Stephen is the cutest of them all in this one, but for sure, the next one.

There he is, bottom left.  Isn’t he darling, we called him Butterball.  In addition, we now had Brad, the sweet baby at the bottom.  The little girl on the right was my Uncle Bob’s little girl, Coral.  Bob was in the Navy and was raising Coral alone, so she came to live with us while Bob was at sea.  Hey, what’s one more.

The only time my mother could get us together (apparently) is when we were in our jammies.

Because that’s what we’re wearing in so many pictures.  By the way, now my first sister is born, Paula.  Finally a girl!

That’s Chuck, Brad and Paula in our kitchen which, if a grilled cheese sandwich could turn into a kitchen, this is the kitchen it would be.  My mom and I bathed the babies in a pink rubber basinet in this kitchen. I kissed her goodbye on my way to my Girl Scout meetings while she stood at that stove, sterilizing baby bottles. I learned my right hand from my left standing in front of the silverware drawer on the right of the sink in the back of this photo.  And for the rest of my life, when I need to figure out which is which, I have to orient myself  “in front of the silverware drawer,” and then I know.  When I was sixteen and taking my driving test, the examiner asked me to turn on the right blinker and then the left.  My mom was in the car, he was behind the car, and I panicked because I couldn’t remember my right from my left, couldn’t picture the silverware drawer, and was too nervous and frantic to figure it out fast enough.  I said, “Mom, which is my right?”  She said, waaaay too slowly, “Well, Sue, you know. . .”  That’s as far as she got before I cut her off . . . “MOM!” I hissed, my eyes like laser fireballs, “TELL ME.”  She understood and told me and I passed my driver’s test.  A person needs her silverware drawer.  Is that really asking too much?

kidsartMy parents would put us all in the station wagon along with sleeping bags, pillows, cornflake boxes, the dog’s food, diapers, ice chest and playpen  —  and drive eight hours up to the High Sierras where we would camp in a musty smelling green canvas tent for a week in the forest, under the trees, cook our food over an open fire, hike and fish and try to lure squirrels all day.  I still remember the smell of the sleeping bags, of hot dirt and pine needles, of bacon and coffee in the morning, the hiss of the lantern at night.

our tent

Now we have another baby, my second sister, Mary.  I was lucky, for almost the whole time I lived at home, we had a new baby every two years.  It was such a baby world in our house, the whole place smelled like baby powder, clean laundry, and baking brownies.

And here is the “baby-for-life,” the last of the eight, my third sister Shelly.  I liked to arrange special hairstyles for the girls when I gave them a bath.  Shelly’s been my best friend from the beginning. She’s a mom too, she has twin 10-year-old boys.

You notice there aren’t a lot of pictures of my mother so far.  That’s because she was always on the other side of the camera, and we were too young to take it away from her. Here we are, looking at one of her dozens of photo albums.  What I need to do one day is to scan all her photos so I have them on the computer. So many wonderful memories in her books!

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The tables have turned and now we take pictures of her.  This is us in Las Vegas three years ago for a family reunion and her eightieth birthday (I should really call that birthday what she called it — her seventy-tenth).

 One of the things I loved most about my mom is that she was always singing around the house.  She knew some really fun songs . . . and taught them to us.  Here’s one of my favorites:

She taught me that song when I was little, I wrote the words for it in one of my calendars, but only now, in the age of the Internet, do I get to give the tune with the words!

angel mother

She taught us all how to dance . . . this is her with the baby-for-life.

And here we are out on a boat in Vineyard Haven Harbor — Shelly (BFL), me, Mom, and Chuckie.  Joe took the picture.

There was life after children.  My mom actually wanted a baseball team when she began having children, not realizing that managing a baseball team isn’t quite the same as playing baseball.  Anyway, she was an outdoor girl, and took up tennis in her forties, and those medals around her neck were just a few of the silvers and golds she won playing in the Senior Olympics. 

She ran out of places to put all her trophies!  She gave me two of them, I have them here in my studio.  I’m very proud of my mom.

For more reasons than one.  When I grew up and could really see what all she did for us, the sacrifices she made, how non-judgemental and encouraging she was, I realized the role moms play in the world.  How important they are.  The most important job in the world.  How they do it with the tiniest things that mean everything to children, a hug, a look, a pat on the head, a kiss goodnight, a picnic in the park.  Wrapping your quartered orange in aluminum foil because waxed paper got all mungy in your lunch bag.  The little things.  I thought it would be wonderful and only right if Moms had more support.  They did what they did, do what they do, with no gold stars, no raises, no one to say, “GOOD JOB.”  My mom’s gold stars were ← her children’s artwork.

I think I saw the loneliness in my mom’s face on some of the tough days when the house would fall into chaos (beyond what was normal), and it stayed with me.  I tried to say thank you while writing my first book, not only to her, but to all moms, to help them know that what they do, and did, really does matter.   My mom (and dad) gave me a stable childhood, something every child deserves — I think if everyone had that, the world would be a better place.  That’s why moms are so important.  And the more support moms everywhere get raising children, it just follows, the better our world would be.  Because no matter what the circumstances, no matter how much money they have, they are capable of being shelter in a storm, just by being there.  I celebrate Mother’s Day deep in my heart, it’s another chance to tell my mom what a FABULOUS, WONDERFUL, HEAVENLY MOTHER she’s been to me. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you nurturing loving women!  What a difference you have made.   XOXO

50 Responses to My Mom

  1. Sandra M. says:

    Wow! You are a lucky girl to have a wonderful Mom and great childhood. I have to say, I was lucky too. Here is to Mom’s. They are the best, and most essential.

  2. chris consentino says:

    well, I had the pleasure of reading much about “Gladys Taber”, whose writing I was familiar with from long ago. I, too, was entranced by her “butternut wisdom”, and the “life Savors” and I was thinking “it can’t get any better than this…” when I clicked onto your “my mom” section. wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I must say, not many folks can bring me to speechless-ness, but you sure do, Susan Branch!!!!! my mom was also a very young bride(17) and mom(18) and my folks were blessed to be together for 67 years after that. I was born 8 yrs after my brother, and we two were the total. I used to fantasize about being “one-of-eight”!!!!! really. but, not to be. I remember the song you very beautifully sang. I reckon we have many of the same songs in our heads from those long ago years. “side-by-side”, tennesee waltz, doggy-in-the-window, when the moon comes over the mountain, and I could go on. any strike a chord??? sorry for that pun! hehe. anyway, as I always say when I write one of these….thank you. oh! thank you. I’m at odds whether to click onto the “my dad” right now. I’ve run out of tissues, and I’d best wait. I think. thank you.

  3. Sheree Rannow says:

    I had the pleasure of working with you’re Mom, Pat, at McDonald Douglas many years ago and I remember when you’re first book came out. She came into work with an arm full! We couldn’t wait to purchase one and start reading it. She’s you’re biggest fan (well besides me!) and we all looked forward to when the next book came out. She’d keep us posted on you’re book signings and we would attend. She’s a blessing and please tell her hello for me!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll do that Sheree!

      • Carol Fontaine says:

        My niece in California just sent me your calendar. I also worked with your Mom at McDonald Douglas. I moved back to Massachusetts in 1997. I don’t know if she would remember me.

        • sbranch says:

          Probably not, I’m afraid. I recognize your name, but my mom’s memory isn’t good at all. She’s still perfectly healthy, has that same old happy lilt in her voice, but can’t remember what she had for breakfast! She’s happy though, really all the time, living with one of my sisters in California. Thank you for saying hello!

  4. chris consentino says:

    Susan. I’ve just finished reading your Mom page, again. wow. it is just sooooo beauuutiful. what a tribute!!! and, i’ll give your mom the tribute of saying she must be VERY PROUD of you and all you are. I cannot adequately express ALL the pleasure and wonderfulness I receive when I visit (and, it do feel like a visit!!) your pages!!! where to begin…well, this morning I had “asked-for-a-sign” which I sometimes need for whatever reason…and our sky was that dark blue which is the right kind for a rainbow to magically appear…but, no rainbow was visible. soooo, I came to computer, and….read “domesticity-city” for the first time….and, lo and behold….there it was….the word RAINBOW…all plain and simple….and, just as real as the real thing. I’ve been doing this “I-need-a-rainbow” for many years…I usually GET ONE….not always in the sky….but, sometimes, just like this one from you, soooo thank you!!! again. I’ve been practically sleep-less all this week what with the full moon, and this morning, at about 5:30, maybe a bit later, there it was…spilling into our bedroom….making a rectangular “puddle” on the floor (shape of the window) that I could step right into!!! what a thrilling episode of “moon-walking”!!!!!!!!!!! I thought of you, as I have all week, while I have been glued to the windows, drinking in the moonlite. wow. also, enjoyed “letter-writing 101” and the “legacy” today, and you are right…we were taught to NEVER begin a letter with I. funny how those things stick with one. and, I just LOVE all the references to your mom. makes me feel like I’m in close touch with mine. I miss her most terribly. she was much like yours and we treasured her because she was a treasure. all thanks and love to you. you give gifts that you are unaware of…of that I assure you.

  5. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    Okay, I’m hooked on you, Susan Branch. I have been reading your blogs since before Christmas and wrote a few responses…..especially to the letter writing 101 and you answered, as you do to all of your girlfriends. I don’t know if you realize how comforting you are to those of us who don’t know how to express all that’s in these beautiful (in my case, aging) minds. This “Mom” blog set the tears a flowing, because your life is what I always envisioned mine to be, but it wasn’t. As a kid, I made up my family with my dolls, watching Donna Reed, Father Knows Best and my friends and neighbors. At 15 years old, I remember flipping through the pages of the S&H green stamp catalog and circling what I wanted for my home when I got one. Well, that was a long time ago and, here I am, sitting at my desk, reading your blog, and comparing my life with yours (as your blog depicts it)……..my teacups, dolls, dollhouses, dishes, old linens, boxes of saved letters and postcards, old collected silverware…….etc, etc, and this beautiful old home that we live in – in the foothills of the Berkshires is where our two children and three grandchildren call “Nana’s” house! Yup, my dreams as a child came true, far beyond a child’s imagination…….that wonderful guy, the one that my Dad wrote in a letter to me “put a twinkle in my eye” ……. and I have been married for 45 years. Good things happen if you really want them to! Susan, when I read your scripts, I feel like I’ve been to tea with friends and as long as my imagination will let me, I’m going to keep pretending that! Thank you and pleeeeese don’t stop blogging!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so sweet Ann, thank you. Yes, you made it happen. That’s what I believe in. You get a little house, and in it, you put your dreams. That’s the freedom we are so lucky to have in this country. xoxo

      • Ann Jane Koerber says:

        God Bless those who fought for that freedom……and still are! Well, I’m off to meet some girlfriends for lunch and then to look for valentine “stuff”…..and I will tell them about you and hope that they too will take the time to enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing your wonderful self!

  6. Julie says:

    My mother was wonderful, with a quick laugh and a fierce dedication to her children. She found joy in the simple pleasures of that time, providing a warm and comfy nest that her family thrived in. I now understand how hard it must have been for her at times. But she never let on. She was a young mother too, 17, as so many were in the 50’s; a stay-at-home mother, a “housewife” whose entire life was dedicated to our happiness. Words just can’t describe how my heart fills when I think of her. She died young, at 57. But as cliche as it sounds, she lives on in my heart, and when I need her, I simply look at the moon and I feel her presence.

  7. Joy Manier says:

    Susan, I waited until I thought I was strong enough to read what you have to say about mothers. Finally got here at 2 a.m. today. I responded to your blog about the “Butternut Wisdom” column, and explained how special it was to my mother and I-we usually read it together, most times over a cup of tea at the kitchen table when I was growing up. My mother died right before Christmas in 2012, and anything that we shared has become so important.I have such a happy memory of my mother singing me the “Playmate” song. It was the only song she every sang to me, and I thought it was wonderful. It was such a special surprise and a lovely gift to see the words to that song on the calendar, and to hear you sing it. I just wanted to say thank you.

  8. Shirley Wells says:

    My dad had a big personality, so when people think of my parents, it’s always my dad they remember. But it was my mom who put in the really hard work of raising a family of five kids, often while teaching school also (even in a one-room schoolhouse for a time!). She had her first three babies in three years. Think of all those cloth diapers! And for a while, we lived in a house without running water. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been. Sadly,I never told her “thank you” before she died, but I tell her that all time now.

  9. Lois Rehm says:

    Dear Susan:

    Your blogs have filled much of my spare time since Christmas, after receiving A Fine Romance for a Christmas gift. This one on mothers strikes home with all of us who treasure memories of our moms. Thanks much for sharing yours with all of your blogging friends. My mom died over ten years ago. She wasn’t at the top of her game at the end since memory losses had taken their toll; but the woman my siblings and I remember and cherish was hard working, accomplished, and generous of heart, always thinking of others. She taught her daughters how to embroider, cook, sew, launder, iron, and clean. With five children to care for, she managed to find time to teach Sunday School and participate in church activities. Going on family picnics was her favorite outing.

    Your description of how you identified your right hand from the left reminded me of my young days. While braiding my hair, my mom used to point out the refrigerator was to the left of the chair I was sitting in. I always had to picture myself sitting in that chair before I could distinguish sides. Later on I learned that educators label this condition “mixed dominance”–when one’s dominant side (mostly right) doesn’t match up with the dominant eye. That gave me comfort since I used to think I must be slow. To this day I have to concentrate before telling my husband to turn left or right. He has learned to double-check to make sure.

    All that’s good I wish for you and yours. May God grant you and your family
    many, many more years of happy and productive lives.

    Lois (of Westchester County, NY)

  10. melanie says:

    wow what an amazing family thanks for sharing, you are blessed

  11. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful memories of your mom, Susan. I am a long-time fan and always wanted to know more about her and your family. Love the pictures, too. I, too, had a wonderful, hard-working mother whom I miss very much every day. Love your books and just finished A Fine Romance…it was magical and makes me want to travel back to England (have only been to London) now more than ever. Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      For a long while I’d only been to London too, but I was lured out, and I hope the book did that for you too!

  12. Sweet Sue says:

    Good Day! I read through all the “About Me” blogs this morning that I had not already read and my favorites were “My Dad” and “My Mom” especially endearing was your singing of your Mom’s favorite song, “Playmate” although Jack sure tryed to join in huh? You should do one entitled “My Joe” maybe for his birthday or some day that is special to you both?
    Thanks for sharing the photos too….they brought back memories of my own childhood as well. Have a grand day!

  13. Nancy West says:

    Susan, I just had to write this morning to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about your mother. I can tell that she is a wonderful mom and friend to you. I can tell what a cheerful, positive influence she is and always has been for you. Can’t imagine raising so many children and making such a happy home without a positive attitude!) after reading about her this morning, I know she would be one of MY favorite moms.
    You see, I lost my sweetheart mother 55 years ago this May, when I was 8 years old. I am 63 years old now, and I still miss her EVERY DAY. She suffered with cancer for 4 years before she died. I have wonderful memories of her, happy and singing and cooking and loving me and making a happy home with my sweet daddy and my older brother. Although I would be lying if I said I have ALL the memories I need! Oh how I wish I had MORE!
    One thing I DO have are treasured friendships with Moms of my close friends. They are “MY favorite Moms.” Many of them have filled that empty spot in my life through the years. You know, sharing love and laughs and “little things,” like I would share with my Mama if she was here.
    Your heartfelt attitude about family and home and friendship and the cute, sometimes wise quotations and poetry, really speak to me. They are part of “who you ARE,” and maybe a big reason is because of your mother. In case you ever wonder about “your message,” and if it really reaches your audience, take it from me, it does! More than anything, I enjoy your encouragement.
    It seems that after all these years, it is finally time for me to “play catch up”
    on my feelings. I have a grown daughter and son and we have been blessed with six happy, healthy grandchildren. Because you have shared about your journal writing, I am beginning a project sharing memories for my kids and grand kids to read. Sort of a “scrapbook journal” with a few pictures. Thank you for your inspiration.

  14. Ramona Horta-Riedeman says:

    Susan – thank you for sharing these beautiful memories of your mother with us! I see that you had a family full of fun, laughter and many many memories. I love how you told of the rest of your siblings becoming “your children” too. That is very sweet. I also loved how you said that you were so lucky to be her daughter, that was so sweet. And don’t kid yourself, I absolutely loved your voice singing “Playmate, come out and play with me”. Wonderful, and the way you sing it…the tune the way you sang it was classic! Gave me a tear at the end when you said “thank you mom”…My own mother and father gave us so many sweet memories as well, and I treasure them to this day and find the tradition in them in my own life still now, from “season to season” and holiday to holiday! Thank you for sharing such beautiful intimate memories! 🙂 Pics were adorable too! Ramona – Central Valley (where it’s nothing but dry and hot right now) California. 🙂

  15. lin rader says:

    I, too was blessed with an angel mother. When I read your “Mother blog” I was reduced to tears….my Mom seemed to be right at my side. I miss her more than I can say. I learned my love for simple things like old dishes and linens, quilts, sewing and music from her. She made homemaking a desirable career. Thanks for sharing your Mom with us.

  16. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    Hi Susan, I didn’t know where to wish you HAPPY BIRTHDAY…..what better place than the Mother blog……for she is the one that made it happen….your Birthday, that is. Lovely, lovely ladies, you and your Mom. So glad to be your girlfriend and wishing you a very very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  17. Tanya says:

    It’s so lovely!

  18. Tamara Thompson says:

    His Sue, I can’t express how much I enjoyed reading this post about your dear Mother. This year my mother turned 80 & moved from Wisconsin to Yakima, the smallish Washington State “apple capitol of the world”, where my husband and I live with our two beautiful teenaged children Maddie and Jon , …oh along with our four cats, Polkie the VI my black and white shorthair , (the queen of all she surveys) , Milo, ( the old sleek black Panther like-bruiser with all his war wounds..) Sweetie (the slow long haired cat who runs into walls, and can’t find her way out from under a blanket , and finally, Tula ( the strange looking wide eyed short haired calico that learned to love us, after our neighbor moved & couldn’t catch her!) Sorry but I just had to throw that in!
    I hadn’t seen my mother for a few years regrettably since travel has become so expensive, but called and skyped often… However it was a both a delight and a shock when I saw her, how frail she had become… but I was happy to have her here and mostly to myself, FINALLY! ( She had 4 children in less than four years, and although not as young as your mom , I feel she sacrificed a great deal of her ” youth and freedom” for the four of us. ) At times I don’t know how she didn’t lose her mind completely, as my father travelled a lot for his job. Yes she was the glue that held this family together, and with her first child , a special needs child with Aspergers & my only brother, & that wasn’t easy! Yet , amidst the chaos , she always found time to be there for us, & to do the little things that mattered so much! She made simple but wonderful meals, sewed us ” matching ” (ugh ) but pretty dresses, made our trolls clothes of felt, made sure we had all our school supplies, & were bundled up when it was cold . She supported our paper routes and girls scout cookie drives, etc, and was always home when we were sick or needed her!
    I grew up a decade or more later than you , in an age that didn’t value ” homemaking” thus we girls all Ronan from anything domestic, I became a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and my sisters , one a doctor of Chinese Medicine, and the other a scientist in chemistry and microbiology, and although we all had a knack for art and music as did my mother, we laid our love for all art aside! Now years later, although we have few regrets, we are all back at what we love, painting, making pies, and soap, and embroidering … baking, reading Jane Austen and Tennyson.. Ironic isn’t it!?
    Among my most cherished memories is the special lunch she made for my field trip to the zoo in first grade . There were small triangular sandwiches with my favorite cream cheese and jelly filling, a piece of the “special recipe” Colonels’ fried chicken , carrot sticks, and the very rare treat of a Hostess pink and white snowball ( a half sphere of chocolate cake covered with marshmellowy goodness and colored coconut filled with cream! ) She and my father worked tirelessly throughout our childhoods to put good food on the table and new shoes on our feet, then put all four of us through university AT THE SAME TIME , and 3 of us through graduate school.. All with never complaining and always saying how proud they were . I was fortunate as well to grow up with both sets of grandparents most of my childhood which was an extra special treat…
    I delayed marriage & literally travelled the world as a volunteer nurse, at the time never wanting to be “trapped” (as I saw it then, like my mother ,) by a hoard of children… Never realizing that her path was one to be envied. At 30 , I finally married & after 10 years when I realized we were not to blessed with biological children was surprisingly crushed, for I finally saw how important family can be. Fortunately God was gracious and enabled us to adopt our 2 lovely children from Korea who have been the absolute joy of our lives ! We celebrated our 27 th anniversary this year and life has been good. Unfortunately my sister died of cancer 10 years ago and we miss her terribly but we can’t complain.
    Yes, we can never say enough about our beautiful and caring Mothers who taught us the real meaning of love by their constant joyful sacrifice and how to love each other like our Father above intended! (And Dads too!) Thank you for this awe inspiring tribute, I am going over to hug my Mom , right NOW, make her a cup of special tea in our rose Chintz or Spode or….Royal Winton… Or ( I inherited her love of China also , LOL) and tell her I love her!

    • sbranch says:

      Loved that Tamara! Just beautiful. In writing my new book, I realized (in all the looking back) it takes us a few years to grow into “ourselves” and know the true value of life. Aren’t we lucky that we do. xoxo

  19. Tamara Thompson says:

    Ps I said Polkie the VI because ever since I was 3 , I have had a black & white tuxedo cat, all named Polkie, because she pokes into everything (you wouldn’t know about that though…) . I had my first one I was 17 ! I loved her so my parents helped me search until I found another just like her, and I have kept finding her reincarnated since then.. I do somehow magically believe they carry her spirit and DNA too. I do so love your she kitty and Jack pictures and stories so much. Thank you for all you bring to my life and all of our lives, you are shaping us to appreciate love and nature, and we love you , kindred soul, and your books , your art and your blog more than you could ever possibly know! Tam. Sorry this was so long!

  20. Carlee Brown says:

    Sue – I just love your mom and had the privilege of calling her ‘aunt’ when she was married to my Uncle Lloyd. She’s still precious to me! For those of us who had fantastic childhoods – yours was bigger than ours (x6), and grew up with values and a strong moral compass that my parents instilled in me and my sister. I’ve been fortunate to be in a loving relationship with my family – husband of 44 years, 2 kids and their spouses, and 2 grandchildren. Love your books and look forward to more. Blessings to you, Sue!

  21. Jennifer Boyd (of Windermere, Florida) says:

    Hi, Susan!
    I just listened to the sweetest song of yours… “Playmate, Come out and Play With Me.” My own Mom used to sing that to all five of US, too!!!!!! 🙂 I have never heard anyone else talk about that song! I am 60 years old (“fifty-ten” as your Mom says) and it sure did brighten my day!! I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota so that was so wonderful to hear you sing that this afternoon. My Mom is 82 years old (she to this day says she is 39 years old, even has it say “Bev’s 39th Birthday on her calendar each year!!) I must give her a call and tell her about you and your Mom’s song. ~Jennifer (Moline) Boyd xoxoxox

    • sbranch says:

      How funny, I almost forgot I made that video. That was very brave of me! Yes, just a wonderful good old song! Say hello to your mom for me!

  22. Mary O. Meyer says:

    Dear Susan, This is your mom’s cousin, Mary Orr Meyer. (Your Grandmother Flo was my favorite Aunt and my Dad Phil’s older sister). The last time I saw you was in CA in 196? – you were 16. Needless to say, I love the way you describe your personal family life, very much like my own, with fewer siblings! I’d love to get in touch with you and with Pat, as well. This seems to be the only way I have found to contact you. Many, many of us in my (our) family (with Wyoming as the headquarters) have a Christmas tradition of being sure each of us receive your calendar every year. Please contact me via the email address I am providing so we can exchange personal numbers and renew and expand our family news. How special that will be! Thank you. Mary

    • sbranch says:

      WOW. Been waiting for some Orr’s to come say hello. We have another Orr Girlfriend here on the blog, but so far, we don’t think we are related. I remember Uncle Phil . . . how fun! I’ll write! xoxo

  23. Hi Susan,
    Hearing you sing “Playmate, come out and play with me…. , I remember well- the tune and many of the words. You sang it nicely- I sound like a frog. I thought I heard Patti Page or Doris Day sing it years ago. Maybe, the Arthur Godfry show. Dating myself. I love reading your blog and Willard. I have your cookbooks. When I moved to CA from NJ all my recipe books got lost ( family recipes too), so I’ve been replacing them. Wow, now you are bringing back “Heart of the Home. I already ordered it so I can receive it when it comes out. Just love your blog, Williard, calendars, the books you have written. Will start “Isle of Dreams” tonight- so glad it shipped early. I also ordered fabric from Spoonflower. Miss my mother every day- I love her dearly. Thank you so much for the gift of you and your many talents. Best to you an Joe too!

  24. Becky Staples says:

    Susan, I can’t believe I just now “found” you! I’m 53 and my boys are grown and on their own. Been married to my British hubby for almost 32 years. But can you believe that he HATES tea? Only Englishman I know that hates tea. We started out living in England, I moved there in the summer of 84′ after we got engaged, we married in March of 85′ at the beautiful little church just up the road from his parents home and we moved back to Florida in November of 85′. I loved living there, it’s an adventure that I’ll always treasure, but at the time, the pound was equal to the dollar, jobs didn’t pay very well, housing was expensive (still is, lol) and I became homesick. Never regretted moving back to the states and we love going back for visits! 🙂 I was introduced to you by an Instagram friend. I’ve loved reading your blog and other entries when I have some quiet time and I’ve already bought three of your books; Heart of the Home and Autumn (from your website) and I was also able to find Vineyard Seasons on a cookbook site. I’ve received the first 2 and I’m anxiously waiting for the 3rd one to arrive in the mail. I’ve decided to control myself from ordering all of your books at once though, because my kids complain that they never know what to get me for birthdays and Christmas,….sooooo, I can now give them ideas. lol…Patience isn’t my strong suit, so I’m pretty proud of myself for only ordering 3 so far. I look forward to getting to know you even better by reading your beautifully written blog and gorgeous books. What a treat to have found you! 🙂

  25. Mrs. StP says:

    Well this about brought me to tears. Thank you, Susan. You encourage me like no other! I’ve always wanted a BIG Catholic family, like my dad grew up with (he was one of eight). But you know, biology…it just hasn’t worked out. But I try to do justice to my three (two biological, one adopted), and this post has encouraged me so, especially the part about seeing the loneliness on your mom’s face when it would all fall into chaos. As happens! It’s inevitable! And I am so thankful to our dear friends E and N who, while childless by choice, have been the most wonderful parents-in-spirit to my tiny brood. They spoil them with little gifts and edible treats, and most important of all, attentive listening when they go on and on about zombies and Lego-builds. When my eyes are glazing over, they’re so enthusiastic all the time. It’s refreshing and inspiring.
    You are right: if everyone grew up in a stable home, how much a better a world we’d have.
    You and I were so very blessed. Thank you for reminding me.
    (Merry Christmas!)

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