It’s hard to tell how your earliest jobs will fit themselves into your overall working life. I had some of the usual teenage jobs, such as babysitting and a paper route. But one job, the one I could do in my bathrobe, led me down a path that still influences my work today.

And it’s all my father’s fault. (Or something like that.)

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I was 9 when my mother and I last worked for the same boss. I was a paperboy for the Winona Daily News and my mother wrote a weekly column called “Whimsey.” She shared observations on life in a small town, being the wife of a pastor and mother of 6 children. Her quips then included thoughts on the topics of marriage, work and school. Read more

Once upon a time in decades past I was able to mystify my grandchildren.

Some of our six children waited eight or more years after the trek to the altar before they produced children. Then, when they tumbled on to it they collectively produced eighteen cuddly, adorable babies in less than ten years’ time. So for a glorious while we had simply gobs of grandchildren that came regularly to visit. Read more

Who knew our tribe has the emotional DNA to celebrate the 90th birthday of a dead man?

Some years ago and after their collective children were finally all off to school in the fall our daughters began the countdown for their annual get together with their Dad to celebrate his octogenarian birthdays. Read more

It is hard to stomp out of the room in a full-blown snit when you are wearing sheepskin-lined bedroom slippers.

Methinks my stomping days are pretty much a done deal. Even Hugo, my trusty walker, has lost his will to stomp meaningfully. He rolls, he twirls, he affords me a seat on the way to the mailbox—but snits and stomps are truly not his forte. Not today. Probably never, truth be told.

Let me back up a bit to give you the proper perspective on this topic. Read more

In the celestial shipping room the angels line up all the babies that are to be born that day. The supervising head of the department wafts down the row, centrally thumbing each little belly and gravely intoning, “You’re done,” before moving to the next.

And dimples in mortal cheeks are where the angels kissed those babies before they made their journey into our now-blessed lives. Read more

I have long since discovered that the most difficult part of leaving a legacy is sorting out who will inherit our stuff. Certainly, items that can be converted to cash will be easily divided among family, friends, and the charities of our choice. Well, “easily” might be a bit of an overstatement. Read more

When I think about the legacy I received from my parents, I think about loading the dishwasher.

Now, this mundane chore was something I’d done as part of my contribution to the family chores. In my childhood home, there were not so much rules as conventions as to how this was done. Pots were not allowed, forks went in prongs up, etc. If you didn’t do it right, it would be re-arranged and your errors pointed out so that you could load it “correctly” the next time.

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 When I think about the legacy I received from my parents…

I received many things from my parents. Several genes have been passed on me. I have absorbed and retain a lot of their values. I think about my parents’ hospitality, inclusivity, and concern for others. Read more


Lest you think our family is any different from yours, please understand that working in three generations only looks smooth from the outside. Inside, our family has its usual share of mishaps and miscommunications. This post was subject to one of those moments, but after muddling through to the other side, we all agree that Barb’s reflections on the following questions provide wisdom and a view pertinent to our conversation. Read more