Today was my mother’s birthday. She died in 1998 but I still do something special to celebrate each year on July 31.
This year, the day’s celebration began with house guests: my youngest granddaughter, Chelsea, her mom (my daughter-in-law) Pam, and Chelsea’s baby, Seth, who will be one year old in August. There is nothing like a year-old baby who knows how to walk to keep everyone else on their toes! He is a happy, busy boy. When I introduced him to player piano music, he jiggled up and down to the beat. My mother loved family gatherings and always showed interest in whatever the grandkids and great-grandkids were doing. She also enjoyed player piano music. She would have loved watching little Seth.
Mother was a generous person who liked to give surprise gifts to friends and who contributed to a wide variety of charitable causes, so I always make a donation in her honor on this day. As it happened, I received an unexpected check today for reprint rights to “The Dog Newspaper,” the first chapter in my memoir, Five Pages a Day: A Writer’s Journey, so I decided to make two donations this year. As I wrote out the checks, I felt – as I have felt all my life – grateful to have had such wonderful parents.
Happy birthday, Mother.
MOTHER’S DAY 2012
I remember my mother with much love, today and every day. I was lucky to have as my role model a woman who was generous, kind, and full of fun. I am equally fortunate to have a loving daughter and daughter-in-law, both of whom are wonderful mothers. Now my granddaughter, Chelsea, is a mom and handling the role with love and care.
Kids who are doing reports on me often ask me what I am most proud of. They expect me to mention a specific book or award, but I always say I am most proud of having raised two children who are thoughtful, empathetic people who have passed on my most cherished values to their own kids.
Happy mother’s day to all moms, including the four-legged variety.
For many years, I have wanted to enclose a portion of my yard with cat fencing. This is a special kind of fence that cats can’t climb over. It allows the cat to be outdoors while removing the dangers of coyotes, getting hit by a car, fights with other cats, big dogs, cruel people, and more.
Some cats are content being indoors all the time, especially if they’ve been raised that way since they were kittens. My new cat, Dillon, had lived outdoors for eight years before I adopted him and he made it clear that, while he appreciated a warm bed and staying out of the rain, he also wanted to sniff the wind and feel the grass under his feet. The time was right to fulfill my cat-fence dream. My son-in-law, Kevin, offered to install it for me, and he was ably assisted by my daughter, Anne, and grandson, Eric.
There are several brands of cat fencing. I chose Purrfect Fencing because the company sponsors a fund-raising event each year for a rescue organization that I support. I also installed a cat door in the window of my office, with a ramp that leads down to Dillon’s enclosed yard. Dillon has learned how to go out the door flap, but not how to come back in. We’re working on that.
I am so excited to have this!
One of my Christmas presents from Brett was a book of knitting patterns for dog coats. I knit one for Lucy and it was so much fun to make that I’m going to knit another one. When we walk on the trail, Lucy is quite the stylish pup!
My birthday was Nov. 11 and I celebrated with family, including three surprise visitors: my oldest granddaughter, Brett, who drove home from college to attend my birthday dinner, and my brother and sister-in-law, Art and Joan, who flew in from Phoenix.
I thought I was going out to dinner with Anne, Kevin, and Pam – my daughter, son-in-law, and daughter-in-law. When we arrived at the restaurant, Art, Joan and Brett were waiting. It was a wonderful surprise and we had a fine celebration.
The other special guest had a sitter for the dinner, but then spent the rest of the week-end with me. My great-grandson, Seth, is three months old. He and Lucy were curious about each other the whole time Seth was here.
When students are assigned book reports, they are often instructed to write about how they connected in a personal way with the book. Their letters to me often mention these connections. This week, I had an interesting connection myself, with one of my own books.
Cages was published in May, 1991. At the time, my oldest grandchild, Brett, was one year old. Brett is now a Senior at Whitman College. She volunteers in a program with the local Juvenile Court system, where she helps to decide what restitution might be best for individual young offenders. When she took the training for this program, she was given a list of possible things that the court can direct these kids to do to make up for their offenses. One item on her list was to “Read the book Cages by Peg Kehret, and write a report on it.”
Cages is about a girl who gets caught shoplifting, and is assigned to do community service at an animal shelter. I knew that it has been used in juvenile courts who deal with youthful shoplifters, but it was a special thrill to have Brett call to share her excitement when she spotted her grandma’s book on the court-approved list.
My Iowa Children’s Choice Award arrived yesterday – a marvelous brass school bell engraved on one side with the Iowa Library Association logo and on the other side with my name, the year, and the winning title, Stolen Children.
This is my fifth time to win the Iowa award, and my fifth school bell. In my acceptance speech for the second one, I told how my grandkids loved to ring the first bell to call everyone to dinner. When I won again, I said that I now had three bells, but four grandchildren and said I needed to win once more so that I could leave one of the bells to each child in my will. It became an on-going joke with Beth Elshoff, who had chaired the ICC committee the year that I won the first time. When I won bell #4, she emailed me that she was happy all of the grandkids were now taken care of.
So this year, I won my fifth bell and the timing was perfect. Seth Robert Kehret, my first great-grandchild, was born last week.
My mother would have been one hundred years old today. At a time when girls were not expected to have careers, she encouraged me to be a writer, or whatever else I wanted to be.
From her, I learned the joy of generosity and the ability to look on the bright side of any situation. I also learned to be a good money manager and to create fun times at little expense.
I remember her with love and gratitude, today and every day.
When Carl and I got married, in 1955, friends of my parents who lived in New Orleans sent us six beautiful plates, each with a different New Orleans scene. I loved those plates when we opened the gift, and I still love them.
On one of our New Orleans trips, we took along a list of the six scenes, and set out to find them. It was a fun quest, and we found all six of them.
I’m having dinner guests tonight. You can probably guess which plates I’ll be using.
Thursday, April 21, is the Carl Kehret Memorial Clinic at the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project in Lynnwood WA. This public clinic is sponsored in memory of my husband, Carl, shown here with Pete. Carl and I rescued many animals together and he always had a tender heart for needy dogs or cats.
The Feral Cat Project is solving the problem of unwanted cats in the best possible way, by offering free spay/neuter surgeries to ferals. They have altered more than 50,000 cats!
At Carl’s memorial clinic, all cats will be spayed or neutered, get rabies vaccine, and be treated for fleas. I think Carl would be pleased by this tribute. You can learn more about the Project here: www.feralcatproject.org.