My Mom….

She would have been 90 years old today. I remember her when she was young and taking care of her children. She smiled a lot.

Lemon cake was Mom’s favorite. Her mother, my Grandma Smith, had a lemon jello cake recipe that was awesome. She made it in a 13 x 9 pan with an awesome glaze. I made it as a two-layer cake with lemon icing, once for mom. And I made it for my grandson with a hockey player cake pan last week. I used the glaze while the cake was hot and cooled it off before decorating the cake. It has been a very longtime since I decorated a theme cake. The cake did not want to come out of the pan. Easy enough to deal with. I have decorated a cake with gouges and blemishes. Those little stars cover a multitude of baking sins. My grandson’s cake was not one of my best efforts. We called it the Corona Hockey Monster.

Mom insisted our birthdays were special and for us alone. September was fun. Dad’s birthday was September 4. Jim was September 11 and Leslie was September 13. We had three parties in nine days. My birthday is March 25 and my sister Deb’s was the 30th. So, two parties in five days. There were three birthdays in 31 days, December 31, January 15 and January 30th for Max, Sally and Penny. Rick’s birthday was October 30, he competed with Halloween.

There were hard times. She did have eight children. She kept on smiling. I loved her laugh.

And she loved us………

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Happy Birthday, Virginia Myrtle

Virginia Myrtle Clark was born July 6, 1882 in Geary County, Kansas. Her parents were Arbelia Ross and William Clark, Arbelia came west from Loudon County, VA to Geary County, Kansas, with her parents, after the Civil War. William Clark, born in Jamaica to Scottish Presbyterian Missionaries, arrived in Geary County, KS from Canada in 1868. There were several Virginias and a Ginny, or two, in the family, so Virginia Myrtle was called Myrtle, her entire life. *

Around 1899, Myrtle packed her wooden trunk and took the train to the capital city, Topeka. She worked as a maid at the Superintendent of the Kansas State Hospital’s exceptionally large house. The family story is the Superintendent’s wife invited her to dress up and attend a party at this fine house one day. Myrtle overcame her reluctance as a Presbyterian missionary  granddaughter and attended the party. There was dancing and she succumbed to the temptation and gave it a whirl. After the party, she felt that it just wasn’t the thing for her and she went back home to Geary County. When I hear this story, I think of the song from The Music Man about Marian the librarian being a “sadder, but wiser gal.”

In 1902, Myrtle married Andrew Engstrom, a Swedish immigrant. They lived in the second story of a building on Main Street in Dwight, Kansas, Geary County, of course. I have passed this building quite a few times when visiting Dwight.

Myrtle was my grandmother’s mother. She was in a car accident and became bedridden. She was at both her daughter’s homes in a hospital bed at different times. And there was a long trip to move her from a nursing home back to a daughter’s house at one point. I was promised ice cream as a treat if I was good. I asked about said ice cream at one point. Grandma Engstrom told me she did not like ice cream. I was shocked.

My grandmother cared for my siblings and I when my parents were working. I went to school around the block. My most vivid memory of Grandma Engstrom was running in the house my first week of first grade. Grandma Engstrom said to her daughter from her hospital bed, in the front room, “Dorothy, Susan, must have learned enough words to play Skip-a-Cross, with me.” I froze and was a bit scared. This woman had once told me she did not like ice cream. Did I even want to play a word game with her? Grandma Smith put me in a chair, sitting on a book, so I could reach the bed table and I played Skip-a-Cross with Grandma Engstrom every day that fall. Skip-a-Cross is a fore runner to Scrabble. I attribute my family renowned success in Scrabble to those early years beside my great-grandmother’s bed.

Here I am, 138 years from a hot July day in central Kansas, sitting in air conditioning, remembering Virginia Myrtle. I think there is ice cream in the freezer…….

*A Rose by any other name might be Myrtle…

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Lily

©2020 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Notes from the Lilypad launch……

The years since August 2016 have brought more change in my life. From the Lilypad Float was the musings of another self. My last post was thoughts regarding the passing from this life of my husband, Mike. He was important in the life of all the children our union brought together. The grandchildren of our union were his, too. He is their Grandpa Mike, who provided a constancy in their worlds.

My role was one of wife and primary health caretaker from 2011-2016. This was a season of valleys and mountaintops and sometimes trudging through the swamp. Through it all, Mike maintained his quirky sense of humor, while determining the next steps in his journey.

As I moved forward, my Lilyness has stayed with me. And I am so ready to write and speak of the next seasons in my float. I have met new people, learned new things, and stuff, and found a love who only wants the best for me and mine. Join me as I share notes from my lilypad…..

©2020 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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The Long Goodbye……

August 18

Alice – Off and on for years we have had many close calls with my grandpa spending so much time with him naturally i had questions and of course i voiced my concerns some of my questions where what would he like people to wear to funeral and just like the movie how to deal the girls boyfriend dies and instead of black she wears the bright yellow outfit that he loved grandpa said basically the same thing you aren’t dressing for the people there you are dressing for Mike Stapleton everyone remember this grandpa is colorful and loving and he loved jokes.

I don’t even feel like today was real I keep wanting to wake up he can’t possibly be gone the last time i saw him he looked just fine he told his nurse that’s my granddaughter and my great granddaughter we laughed and played sam was having a blast so in my head a choice keeps saying its not real it cant be real you saw him laying there he didn’t look right he’s not gone this is all wrong please this is all wrong

Lily – One year ago today, my blessed grandchildren, Sam and Abby lost a grandfather; today they are here with us to honor the life of another. Heavenly Father, give us all strength to walk in your light through really hard days and nights. Amen

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Reality Sucks……

Jami – So I have been walking around on auto-pilot for the last few days. Sort of in a state of non-reality.

My dad passed away this past Sunday. I’ve kept this event pushed out of my mind as I have numbly walked through the past 3 days. However, I just went to the funeral home to drop off pictures and reality tried to rush back in.

If I didn’t know the truth I could almost say he’s sleeping. Which is something that didn’t happen easily for him. I half expect him to open his eyes and shoot me a sarcastic remark for watching him sleep.

The tears that I’ve kept at bay are starting to show themselves as I tell him I love him and I’ll miss him.

I know that he is no longer in pain and I’m grateful for that but that doesn’t change the fact that I wish he was still here with us. He makes us better in a way that I can’t explain. He can express anything to you with a quiet look. We always knew how he felt about us even without words. I love you dad and you will forever be in my heart.

Keri – As I sit in my mother’s temporarily quiet living room trying to find the right words, I have come to the realization I am still too raw to describe how I feel.

As many of you know, Jeff and I took our daughter to Colby, Kansas so she could take the first steps toward reaching her dreams.

What I haven’t been able to share is that on Sunday morning my father… my children’s grandfather… The love of my mother’s life, took the final steps of his and passed away in Topeka.

I have been through an emotional gauntlet that has taken me three days to even try to attempt to write about. And as my mom sleeps-something, as you can imagine, she hasn’t done a lot of-I still cannot adequately put into words the extent of the hole my dad’s loss has produced.

I can barely see through the tears welling in my eyes and my body is jerking as I try to hold my sobs at bay long enough to finish.

I love you, Dad, I always have, I always will.

I wish you hadn’t gone, and I am a selfish child who wants you back!

You made my life-all our lives-better.

You are deeply missed.

Amanda – My sweet girl Sherra’s father has passed away. He will be so greatly missed by his daughter, myself and all of his many family and friends. I feel very privileged that I was welcomed into his family by him; such a loving, wise, kind and gentle man.

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Painful Days and Nights……

August 15

Alice – So here it is one of the most important people in my life has past he moved on he can no longer cheer me up crack jokes and sarcasm watch whatever game is on or haggle the lowest price he is just gone and thinking about it hurts and not seeing him on the scheduled. Days is gonna hurt and not being able to here his crankiness to me being a smartass is gonna hurt but he is no longer hurting so that is the bright side aand because oof that it will be ok

Alice – The stories i have to tell there’s to many so many memories like grandpa getting peed on by a turtle or the time we went to see the men who stare at goats and of course building the pond we worked so hard on this pond and gardening and at the house in illinous there was a chipmunk who loved grandpas sunglasses so we are i. The back digging and decide to go get some Burger King on the way to the car grandpa stops by the tree where he left his sunglasses and looks around noticing they are gone so of course i must have them after i prove i don’t i go over and look and there in a hole between the rocks they are stuck so i go to grab them when this little chipmunk comes out of no where scaring me grandpa chuckles and well lets just say those sunglasses never came back

Kyra Rose – I spent my night and morning trying to figure out what to say about the events of yesterday. The truth is, there is nothing I can really say. I’m having a hard time believing this is real. I’m having a hard time believing that yesterday wasn’t a dream. That I’m not just going to wake up and Climb down off my bunkbed and swing open the door to my room and run across the hall to find him sleeping in their room. Or that I can’t just drive across town to find him in his blue lighted TV room watching his shows.

He accepted me for not only who I am but who I want to be. When he asked me my plans and I answered, there was no lecture, no “well will you make enough” or ” I think you should consider your options” there was a “well if you need anything we are here and let’s do it.” I had a shoulder to cry on and someone who could be as raw and understanding as me.

I had someone who was my grandpa, an extra father figure, and my friend. I feel like I didn’t tell him enough that I love him. I feel like I should have done more to see him more often.

But I know that he knew I love him and he knew I was off trying to make my dream a reality. I was out doing what I had to do for me. He knew I cared and he wouldn’t want to beat myself up for it.

More importantly, I know he loves me and that he wants only the best. This is only more reason to become who I will be, because he wanted me to be myself and no one else. Alright grandpa, I got this from here. You rest now and I will see you when I get there. I love you and I miss you, but I know where to find you when I need you. Rest easy….

Kaylen – I think it’s time for a college update. Well I have settled into my dorm and have become good friends with my roommate Maria. My classes start tomorrow though and I am nervous for that but I know I will be okay. I have also turned in an application for work study at the Horse Barn so I can spend as much time as I can with the horses. Hopefully I will get picked.

I have however lost a person whom I was very close to and that person was my beloved Grandfather Mike Stapleton. He would always give me the best advice and if I need to tell a a joke or one of his crazy stories. I will miss him very much but I know that he is still watching over me. I’m going to make him and the rest of my family and friends proud by kicking butt in school.

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Gray Skies……..

August 14

Lily – Mike passed away this am. I will miss him every day, his humor, his spontaneity, his love and affection for me and ours.

Sherra – My father  the best father anybody could ask for. Passed away this a.m. and I just want the world to know what an awesome guy he was! He meant the world to me and so many others. Please pray for me and my family. And pray for my fathers journey to go be with God the best journey of all. I love you dad

These Facebook Posts were made by me, and Mike’s daughter, the day our world rocked and shifted on its axis. Our daughters and three oldest granddaughters shared their grief and pain on Facebook in moving tributes and lots of love for Mike. I wanted to share the first few days of our new normal with Lilypad Float readers…….

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Sisters Are.…

“Sisters are blossoms in the garden of life,” Author Unknown

“Sister to sister we will always be, a couple of nuts off the family tree,” Author Unknown

“A sister shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams,” Author Unknown

“Sisters may share the same mother and father but appear to come from different families,” Author Unknown

“You can kid the world, but not your sister,” Charlotte Gray English author and professor

“May and I are sisters. We’ll always fight, but we’ll always make up as well. That’s what sisters do: we argue, we point out each other’s frailties, mistakes, and bad judgment, we flash the insecurities we’ve had since childhood, and then we come back together. Until the next time…” Lisa See, in Shanghai Girls

“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of.  You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there,” Amy Li, author

“If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child,” Linda Sunshine, author and editor

“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…” Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

“Sisters are probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship,” Margaret Mead, anthropologist

“We acquire friends and we make enemies,…. our sisters come with the territory,” Evelyn Loeb, author

“Sisters share the scent and smells – the feel of a common childhood,” Pam Brown, Australian poet.

“Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot.  But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers,” Pam Brown, Australian poet.

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers.  It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage.  Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at,” Maya  Angelou, poet and author

“Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other,” Carol Saline along with photographer, Sharon Wohlmuth, has co-authored five photo-essay books. Their most popular, Sisters, spent 63 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and sold over one million copies.

My sisters are all of these and much more. Together we face the world, even when we cannot face each other. Their children and grandchildren are a part of me and mine, in a way I cannot define. Time, distance, death does not break the bond we worked hard to make, no matter the bittersweet of anger, hurt, broken trust….

We are sisters…..

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Living a ritualistic life…….

One Easter Sunday I sat in our Illinois church home. I listened to the story I have heard annually all of my life. The story of how Peter denied he was a follower of Jesus.  I remembered when I first realized without the stories of Judas betraying Jesus, Peter denying Jesus and Paul persecuting Stephen and being blinded on the road to Damascus there might not be a religious movement we now know as Christianity. Around the same time as the Christianity epiphany, I made the leap to the reasons for the collection of stories that brought forth the Jewish monotheistic faith…

One God focuses our faith…..

One God consolidates our thoughts…..

One God gives us a universal reason for working together….

One God allows us to pray, worship and share our spiritual rituals with each other…..

Spiritual rituals sooth our souls….

Spiritual rituals allow us to be present…..

Spiritual rituals remind us to be mindful of our better selves….

Spiritual rituals calm our troubled minds…..

God is good…..

Embracing the ebb and flow of my walk with God strengthens my faith in good…..

Honoring the good in my life holds evil at bay….

Celebrating the good in Christmas, Lent, Easter, Epiphany, All Saints Day gives me common ground with my family and friends…..

All is well and good with my soul……


©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved

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Happy Mothering Day…


…is fundamental to all beings.

…involves nurturing and raising children.

…extends far beyond biology and bodies.

…is the act and practice of love and the passing on of knowledge.

…occurs across multiple times and spaces

…is political.

…is life.

“Mothering is not limited to relationships between a female parent and her biological offspring. Mothering, as a relationship and practice, is a social and cultural act that occurs between multiple configurations of people of many generations – individually and communally. This is something Indigenous peoples have always known, celebrating extended families and lauding the wisdom of matriarchs as it applied and was transmitted to all the younger generations of a community. Mothering, understood in this way as a complex web of relational practices, was and is fundamental to life. This is perhaps also why mothering has often been so threatened while simultaneously holding the potential for (re)building the inherent strengths in our communities.

Aboriginal mothering is recognized as extending beyond the biological act of giving birth and involving a multitude of roles and relationships across times, spaces and generations. Strength to move forward as healthy individuals, families and communities is inextricably linked to Aboriginal women, mothers, grandmothers and aunties….”

The Sacred Space of Womanhood- A National Showcase on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Women and Mothering

©2012 National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved


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