Inspiring Moment: Happy Mother’s Day!

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson


Holiday Memory: The Green Tartan Night Gown

Written by Laurie on December 20, 2012

Two years ago, this holiday memory submitted by Laurie, a regular contributor to Five More Minutes With Web site was the winner of our first-ever Holiday Memory Contest!

Her first story for us, A Whiff of Perfume, documented the ineffable memories she had when she smelled her mother’s perfume.

The House on Sylvan Lane chronicled her happy childhood in a very special home.

In The Green Tartan Night Gown, she again weaves a compelling portrait of family life as she was growing up. As with her two previous stories, I can’t read it without shedding a bucket full of tears.


Everyone has his own way of celebrating Christmas. In our house, these “family traditions” had to be adhered to year after year. My mother was the producer of Christmas and the keeper of the rules.

On Christmas morning, we took coffee or hot chocholate and a special Christmas Danish to the fireplace to open our stocking gifts. These “treasures” were anything from candy and cosmetics to kitchen gadgets and school supplies that we wrapped in red or green tissue paper. We took turns unwrapping them one at a time.

In an attempt to make the day last as long as it possible, we took a break to get the turkey in the oven, dress up for the day, and slowly gather around the Christmas tree for the gift exchange. Dad was Santa and passed around the colorfully wrapped presents. We watched as each opened a gift and, made appropriate oohs and aahs.

Selecting, wrapping and giving gifts was very important to my mom. Christmas wasn’t Christmas unless you had packages under the tree with your name on the gift tag.

As time went by, the mantle passed to me. I became the producer of Christmas in my home, but my mom still was the enforcer of the traditions. On this particular Christmas, we all had to bend the rules to accommodate my mom’s treatment for ovarian cancer.

I now lived in Florida where my parents spent their winters, so we were able to arrange for mom to come as usual and continue with chemo. She was so weak when she got off the plane. I got them settled in their condo about five minutes from my home, bought a miniature live Christmas tree, and tried to make it as festive as possible.

To make it easier on mom, I set up the stockings turning their kitchen bar into “the fireplace mantel”. On Christmas morning, I drove to their condo for coffee and Danish and the familiar stocking gift ritual which my dad and I kept alive.

Later in the day, a very frail mom wearing her crooked wig came to my house to finish the Christmas traditions around my tree. The gifts were there, but this year’s pile wasn’t as big and I expected nothing from my mom except the gift of her being with us that day.

This time, I was Santa. She directed me to a package with my name on it in her handwriting beautifully wrapped. I opened the box and pulled out a full length flannel night gown in a green tartan pattern.

What made the gift so special is that my mom made my dad drive her to the mall so that she personally could pick out the gift — something to keep me warm since she knows I always get cold. The tears came down my cheeks as I tried to hide them behind the warm comfy night gown which reminded me of my mother’s love and the importance of celebrating Christmas her way.

That was our last Christmas, but the gown comforted me and brought back warm memories of a lifetime of Christmases with my mom. They are never the same without her.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Five More Minutes With His Mother

Written by John Paul Carter on August 27, 2012

Today our frequent guest columnist, John Paul Carter, an ordained minister who writes for the Weatherford (Texas) Democrat, reflects on how our own life experiences continue to shape our memories of our parents in his story entitled, Still Getting to Know Mother. 

“How they do live on, those giants of our childhood,” writes Frederick Buechner, “and how well they manage to take even death into their stride because although death can put an end to them right enough, it can never put an end to our relationship with them….they live still in us.”

My mother, who was born in 1903, has been dead for 32 years now. But strange as it may seem, I feel I know her – and my father – better now than I ever have in my life.

After my parents’ passing, I became aware of so much I didn’t know about their lives – especially their growing-up years and ancestry. This led me to trace their genealogy and learn more about the people and historical context that shaped them.

However, apart from this more recent gathering of data, knowing my parents better has been a long and gradual process, like the fermenting of grapes into fine wine.

As the events of my own life have unfolded and I’ve had time for reflection, a deeper understanding of my parents has evolved.

“Memory is more than a looking back to a time that no longer is,” says Buechner, “it is a looking out into another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and change with the life that is in it still.”

Many memories of my mother were my perceptions of her from a child’s perspective.

Some of what I remembered was accurate but other impressions were distorted.

As the Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…”

Only later, as an adult, when I had children of my own, did I really begin to know my mother better.

One of many unforgettable insights happened as I drove home alone after leaving my daughter Kristen at A&M at the beginning of her freshman year.

From 25 years before, my mother’s face flashed into my mind as she weakly waved goodbye to me while I excitedly drove away to attend graduate school in Scotland.

After the guilt of my insensitivity had receded, I was grateful to better understand my mother’s mixed feelings.

When over the course of our lives, we, like our parents, have loved, worked, struggled, achieved, lost, rejoiced, grieved, enjoyed good days, survived hard times, aged, and looked death in the eye, then – and only then – can we come close to understanding and appreciating our parents and those who have loved us from the beginning.

Our own experiences continue to shape our memories of our parents.

To borrow a phrase from the title of a well-known book, sometimes it’s like meeting our parents again for the first time.

And, Buechner would add, “If they had things to say to us then, they have things to say to us now too, nor are they by any means things we expect or the same things.”

Lord, thank you for my parents and our still growing relationship.




Missing My Mother. . .

Written by Chelsea Hanson on December 22, 2011

One of our regular columnists, Chelsea Hanson, weighed in on our question on Facebook on who you are missing this holiday season. Thanks, as always, Chelsea!

Who I am missing? Thanks for giving everyone the opportunity to share.

This year I am missing my mother at Christmas, but that is nothing unusual, as I think of her every day.

December 19th marks the 15th anniversary of her death.

I was only 28 when my mom passed away, so I have already have lived one-third of my life without her physical presence.

Although it is hard for me to believe how the time has passed, she still is just as of strong part of my life.

My thoughts, my actions, are influenced by her presence from above, and I am grateful for that connection and that our love and relationship still lives on!

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Alma’s Grace and Style

Written by Kate Heyhoe on October 10, 2011

This was the very first story ever published on the Five More Minutes With website, written by my friend and fellow cookbook author and food writer (turned artist), Kate Heyhoe.

To the Momster!

I’ve only got 5 minutes, so I’ve got to talk fast: You already know, I hope, how much I love you. Thank you for being my best friend and such an extraordinary person. You really got the fact that in this life, love means everything.

Dying doesn’t look easy. We were amazed how such a tiny person could last a full seven days and nights without food or water. But then again, you were never less than super-hero strong in character. Still, it wasn’t until both your children were in your room at the same time did you finally release and let go. We believe you were waiting for that very moment, with each of us holding your beautiful hands, to remind us to go on together as family. Your last breath was your exclamation mark.

I wish I had known better how to tell what your thrashing really meant, whether you were in agony or just seeing something that the living can’t. Were those “Oh, mama!” moans of extreme pain, or expressions of awe and wonder as you touched the next plane of consciousness?

The hospice nurses explained what each drug did, but they didn’t really prepare me for the rest of the details, the ones that drugs can’t fix. I figured it was okay to ramp up the morphine. But comforting a person transitioning through death just doesn’t seem to work the same way as cozying a person with a cold or the flu. Wish I could have done better. And I’m sorry we encouraged you to try cancer treatments; they bought a couple of years, but you may have been happier without them.


I think about you every day, and try to make those thoughts of joy now, rather than sorrow. Not always successful; I miss you so much. You are my muse, and as I work at your old oak drawing table, I feel your presence. You were and still are so inspiring, something I wish I had told you more often. And you were such a good person, going out of your way to bring a smile to everyone’s day just through a little comment or action. I think you were scared going into death, but I hope you’ve found a bright new phase of being, plump with joy and peace and all things good.

Until we play together again…
Lovey doveys,


More stories from: With My Mom

A Memorial Brick for a Special Mother

Written by Braiden on June 23, 2011

Those of you who visit the Five More Minutes With Web site with any regularity know that we occasionally run holiday contests. And during the contests, we offer nice prizes to entice the best submissions.

Ever wonder what a recent prize winner, Laurie Halladay, did with the $100 she won?

Here’s the lovely brick she had inscribed to her mother. It rests at the Cancer Support Community/Florida Suncoast, a non-profit organization providing free psychological and educational services for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Laurie’s brick in honor of her late mother

Like mother, like daughter, I would say.

Thanks for your good work, Laurie. Wonderful way to commemorate your loved one!

Laurie and the brick honoring her mother



More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Memory of Mom: The Zipper

Written by Chris Prouty on May 5, 2011

When I was a kid, my Mom zipped up my neck and chin in my snow suit.

I’ll never forget that day.



Memory of Mom: Talking Over the Barbecue

Written by Crystal Mason on May 2, 2011

My mom has not had too much time with me and my sister growing up as she worked as a night-shift nurse to support our family of four (Dad is disabled).

But when she had those few days off to spend with us, she was always cooking.

We would enjoy traditional Filipino foods like lumpia, pancit, chicken adobo, and sweet sticky rice…

My favorite memory of my Mom was a few years ago, when I came home from college.

She was grilling some fish and barbecued chicken outside, and we began talking about my Grandpa, whom I had met once when I was three years old.

For the first time, we talked openly about her memories of him, when she got in trouble, and what she would have changed with their relationship if she could go back.

I had never really talked to my Mom before, because she is usually a closed-off person.

But I remember that day.



My Memory of Mom: The Day She Became Sober

Written by Sunshine Diaz on April 27, 2011

My memory of my mommy is a fond one.

I remember the day we sat on the porch crying. My Dad had just left us with my little brother in the house we had been living in for five years.

We had no electricity for three years, no gas for two, and never knew what a phone or television was.

Drugs had taken over.

The day my Dad left, my Mom and I at there alone. . .foodless. . .moneyless. . .alone.

In that moment my Mom became a MOM.

She said, “When the smoke clears, we will see the light!”

That day was 13 years ago. She has been sober since then, and has been the Mom I always needed.

It was a miracle we were never taken away, but I am so glad for that.

We became strong women together, and I will never forget her for that.

Thanks, Mommy!


Memory of Mom: Sharing a Daughter’s Birth

Written by Maelyn Lessard on April 15, 2011

My best memory that I share with my Mom is when I gave birth to my daughter.

I called when I was in labor but I went fast.

I was living in North Carolina and she was in Melbourne, Florida.

She drove all night and arrived at 7a.m.

I was sitting in bed holding my new baby girl and she walked in crying.

I cry thinking of the moment we all held each other for the first time.

It is a moment you cannot describe because it was filled with so much love and emotion.

We have since moved to Melbourne and have shared many things, but that moment is truly just ours.


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