Missing Mom: Kay Mesle

imagesMom was born on December 21, 1918.  She died January 14, 2009, less than a month after her 90th birthday.  I was privileged to know her, to have her as my mother and as my friend.  I considered her “my rock”–the one person who, from as early as I can remember, loved me unconditionally.  She made everyone feel that way.

Mom was all about love: love of family, of bright colors and of the flowers in her garden.  She supported her children and grandchildren in everything we did.  We wanted her to be proud of us, and she always was.  She loved us unconditionally, whatever the circumstances, whatever the challenge.

Over the years we became aware of her favorite sayings for challenging times.  She never said: “it will be okay”, or that “everything happens for a reason”.  She did say things like “it came to pass, it didn’t come to stay, it came to pass”, and “life is what happens when you are making other plans”.  When she didn’t know an answer to a question, she would “put it on the shelf” until she had an opportunity to figure it out.

Even when mom and dad moved into an assisted living center, mom dedicated her life to beautifying the world around her.  Having lost the garden at the home she shared with dad, she became the volunteer gardener at the Groves, planting elaborate pots of brightly colored flowers for all of the residents to enjoy.  She visited friends and strangers alike who lived in the areas reserved for those who were incapable of caring for themselves.  She provided them the limitless love that was at her core.  When she died there was nothing left of her but her endless love.

Mom, I miss you.


Warthogs and other zoo experiences

Lions and tigers and bears–that is what zoos are all about. Right?  I had not been to Kansas City’s zoo for years But I charmed my great friend, Denise, into a weekend visit.  We never did see any lions, or tigers or bears.  It was hot outside and they were hiding somewhere cool.  This wonderful leopard was alone worth the visit.  Even as it slept in the shade, we knew we wouldn’t want to meet it in the wild.

Today’s zoo is nothing like the zoo of my childhood.  Once packed into a small area within Swope Park, the zoo has grown to provide an environment for animals and visitors that give us at least some sense of how the animals might actually live in the wild–well, absent the whole process of catching and eating other zoo animals!

Some areas of the zoo property appear to the eye to be in the wilderness.  It is easy to forget we are in the middle of a metropolitan area. The challenge is that it can actually be difficult to find, let alone photograph, the zoo’s inhabitants. The sense of isolation is worth it.

Denise and I bought platinum tickets which allowed us to ride the trains, buses, trams and gondolas without standing in additional lines. The rides themselves became part of the fun.

With many animals we expected to see napping in the shade, we transferred our attention to animals and birds that seemed to thrive in the sun. We had a great time watching the warthogs bath in the muddy stream. Seriously, I have rarely seen animals in greater need of a makeover!  But they were wonderful to watch.

While giving the appearance of open country, the zoo’s exhibits are carefully divided in such a way that the animals are safe from each other.  Often multiple animals and birds were in the same areas.  They happily ignore each other.

There were a wonderfully rich variety of colorful birds throughout the exhibit.  Many were best seen from the gondola.

We will return in cooler weather.  Hopefully we will find an entirely different group of interesting zoo inhabitants to photograph.  I am looking forward to it.

To the wonderful men in our lives: Happy Father’s Day!

We have some wonderful men in our lives. Wonderful husbands, brothers, cousins. Most importantly today, we have amazing Dads and Granddads. I feel so lucky to have grown up with such amazing men, who have all loved me, mentored me, and guided me along the way. Mum and I often talk about the importance of “the village” in taking care of the family and helping guide the children as they grow up. Well, I have the BEST village a girl could ask for, and the best group of Dads to go along with it!

Today, tell your Dad how much you love him, and how thankful you are for all the wonderful memories, important lessons, and fabulous times in your life. So, Padre, Pud, Tio, Granddad, Jake, Grandpa, Bob, Bill… Thank you for being so wonderful. You are all amazing Dads, and I’m lucky to have you in my life. I love you all!

The Power of Love is Transcendent: Guest Author, Carl Mesle

Biography:  Carl Mesle is a retired minister with the Community of Christ Church in Independence, Missouri. He is my dad and Meg’s granddad.  Carl has dedicated his life to his church and his community.  He wrote and taught on creating healthy families and healthy children.  He retired as Pastor of the Stone Church in Independence.  At age 97 and in failing health, he wrote what he describes as his “final” letter to the editor of our hometown newspaper.  It was published in the Independence Examiner, May 31, 2012.

The Power of Love is Transcendent

Love–sacrificial, caring love–is the greatest power in the world.  It abolishes hate.  It brings people together in caring communities.  It provides the pathway to unity.  It provides the power to bring couples together and to produce children in caring familities, and it offers the support of relatives and friends.

On the wider community level, it offers peace between nations and cultures and provides a mutually compatible relationship between humans, animals and the resources of nature.  It eliminates warfare.  It is expressed in the care of animals.  It makes it possible for people to labor together to create buildings of beauty and sturdiness.  It provides the foundation of human endeavors, which permit the exploration of the seas and the skies.

Loving and caring for oneself is also essential to living one’s best.  Possibly the most exciting and satisfying element of love is expressed in the intimate, physical experiences in the sexual relationship of mating, but only when it is mutually sought and enjoyed.

There are several kinds of love, that of lovers, that in the everyday working of couples in marriage, that of a parent for a child, that of laying one’s life down for a friend, and that spiritual love exchanged between God and his worshipers.

Please note: the views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the primary authors of Shifting the Balance.  However, we think it is important to encourage the free flow of ideas in order to promote collective action and compromise.  In order to keep the country “in balance” we believe we should all work together, and that means sharing and respecting ideas, including those that may be different from our own.