More Colors Than Crayola

Family. The brushstrokes of the stories of our lives.

I think much of mine has been finger painted. Or possibly spray painted.

But it’s rich with color. And really interesting people.

I’ve been in Chicago this past weekend with two of my daughters, my sisters and mom. To celebrate daughter Courtney’s upcoming wedding with a shower.

We really got together for the stories.unnamed

Pictures and photo albums from the early 1900’s were brought out and perused with laughter, questions and attempts at identification.

I saw, for the first time, a picture of my mom’s folks together. Grandpa died when Mom was three, so there aren’t many pictures of him. He came over from Czechoslovakia and opened a bakery on the south side of Chicago. Then brought Granny and their first two children over.

I heard about my Uncle Frank, a soldier in World War 1 who came home to become a policeman. I saw pictures of him as a young man, grinning, with a gleam in his eye and a gal on each arm. He was killed in the line of duty when, having captured a criminal, the man managed to wrestle his gun from him and shot him with it.

I discovered that, a year after losing her oldest living son, her husband died of a ruptured appendix.

I remember Granny being a stern woman. Her smiles came infrequently. I’ve a better understanding of how hard her life had been.

There’s a picture of Mom and Granny standing in front of their bakery the year Grandpa died. Chicago Lawn Bakery. How difficult it had to have been for both of them. Mom lost her father and has no clear memory of him. Granny lost her husband and partner and had to run the business with the help of her older children. Mom would sit in the corner, often eating cookies, watching and waiting for her family to finish unnamed-4work for the day. They all worked. She wasn’t quite four.

It was as if I’d been given puzzle pieces that I hadn’t known existed. Pictures that made me better understand Mom. And me and my siblings. A chance to appreciate a story that I don’t fully know.

What’s hard is that my lack of knowledge has led me down paths of criticalness. Where I’ve judged those I love unfairly. Based on circumstances and not the whole story. The rest of the story.

How unfair.

Knowing the extent of my story helps me recognize who I am and why I do things the unnamedway I do. The work ethic I was raised with–you finish and you finish well. Finding fun in small ways, like Mom teaching us to dance to show tunes. You choose fun.

We all want to know who we are. To know that our stories matter.

God knows me. And values me.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”    Psalm 139:16

God knows the details of my life. Always has. The beginning, end and all the middle parts. In Him my story has value. Purpose.

That’s a whole new color I can add to my palette.






16 responses to “More Colors Than Crayola”

  1. We don’t get to choose the family we are born in to, but we can choose how we will live with that family. I am going for a week visit to see my parents. I go with a renewed desire to know and love them well. Thanks, friend, for the timely post!


    1. Thanks for your encouragement. You have a knack for making folks feel like family. So I’m guessing this will be a sweet time of making memories–as someone dear to my heart says often. Especially about her own marriage! You are a breath of fresh air wherever you go, Ter!


  2. Now you know why I love genealogy. We all come from a rich heritage – both good and bad. One of my uncles was a very strange bachelor – after he died I found out he had undiagnosed PTSD from WWII. That gave me much greater understanding.
    Thank you so much for giving us your perspective. I pray that more people will start asking questions about their family background.


    1. Oh, sweet friend, you and I think so much alike. You helped me better understand how to grin at the quirky. Thanks!


  3. Dayle u hit the nail on the head. Colors most often I look thru tinted glasses and see gray and yet The Lord removes the glasses to add His color with strokes of love, patience, acceptance and so much more. Thanks friend for helping me see this in a fresh way.


    1. You added even more dimension with the tinted glasses! Thanks for your encouragement, El. He does paint us gently.


  4. I need God’s Perspective and Purpose, also Dayle – not my own blurry vision — HIS isn’t blurry at all! [Neither is HIS Purpose for me!] Blessings to you, Courtney and Debby AND for making my Perspective and Purpose clear through HIM with humor and cleverness!


    1. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we have no business laughing at anyone else. Right? Love you, Lois!


    2. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we have no business laughing at anyone else. Love you, Lois!


  5. God sends us to sea with a crew of His own choosing. Mostly we can’t see it, because of the storms, but it is a grand adventure with treasure at the end. Your particular group of sailors (pirates?) has learned to dance on a heaving deck, and laugh at squalls. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.


    1. Dancing on a heaving deck and laughing at squalls. I want to be that person! And yes, I do believe we’re all pirates.


  6. My grandparents were Czech on the south side of Chicago! Maybe they were neighbors? And my mother’s father died when she was 5. Yes, it does help to get the whole picture. And then there are those I judge who I may never get the whole picture — maybe the judging is the issue!?!


    1. Talk about small world! They lived in an apartment near 63rd and Kedzie. I remember it well–we lived there till after our third birthday. I do believe you’re right–judging is the bottom line epidemic of my questionable attitudes. It’s where and when I always get in trouble.


  7. Great post and a beautiful family, Dayle. I was raised in a Chicago suburb and most of my family still lives in and around Chicago. I can’t travel now, but I wish I could go visit.


    1. Thanks for the kind words, my friend. Which suburb? Mine was Hinsdale. I know travel isn’t an option now–but I anticipate with delight how we’ll have all of eternity to get around and meet and be with the people we will have forever to connect with. I value your hopefulness and courage.


      1. We were a little further north in Libertyville.


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