Celebrate Mother’s Day By Sharing Inspiring Stories of Remembrance

Written by Braiden on April 30, 2010

Today is an exciting one in the evolution of Five More Minutes With!

We have partnered with a wonderful food producer–Fairytale Brownies–and are launching a Mother’s Day contest to find the most inspiring story about Mom.

Fairytale Brownies Mother's Day Keepsake Box

For those remembrances shared between today and May 9, 2010, you will automatically be entered to win a dozen assorted, fresh-baked Fairytale Brownies in a beautiful, handcrafted wooden Mother’s Day keepsake box shipped to your home.

As always on Five More Minutes With, you are encouraged to explore the site for inspiration, then submit your own story to share.

Answer the question: What would you say if you had Five More Minutes With. . .Mom?

And what better way to salute Mom than with her very own story (and photo, if available), just in time for her big day?

Not to mention the chance to win a dozen fresh-baked brownies in tantalizing flavors such as Original, Espresso Nib, Caramel, and Cream Cheese–enough to share with friends and family while you reminisce about Mom.

More stories from: Featured Story

Inspirational Poster

Written by on April 29, 2010

Since launching Five More Minutes With on March 26, I’ve been looking at the world in an entirely different way. It’s as if my eyes and ears–indeed all my senses–have been newly opened and awakened to the plethora of inspiring people, places, and visuals all around me.

During our recent trip to an international culinary conference in Portland as part of my “other” life (my food-and-wine-related activities in support of my cookbooks and articles), I was inspired by this poster at The Art Institute of Portland while enjoying a workshop on Northwest Bivalves.

Art Institute Poster

I offer it up here to you so you can be equally inspired. . .perhaps it will even prompt some exciting new postings and stories on FMMW.

More stories from: Editor's Notes

Courageous, Proud, and Loving to the End

Written by Carole on April 23, 2010

Vashti and Lucius

Vashti (left) and Lucius, brother and sister and best friends

My beloved dog, Lucius, died at the age of 14. His littermate and sister, Vashti, had passed away the year before. She went suddenly, becoming severely ill in just a few days, and then collapsing. I took her to the vet and she never returned.

Lucius missed his sister terribly. He would often stand outside their doghouse, stick his head inside, and howl—the low, mournful cry of a Siberian husky. He seemed to be saying “Vashti, where are you? Where have you gone? Are you lost?”

They truly enjoyed their life together. When she wanted to play, he would play dead. When she approached him to find out what was wrong, he would abruptly leap up and pounce on her. She would get back by stealing all the toys and putting them in a pile in front of her. To each other, they were best of friends. To me, they were loyal and loving companions whom I miss terribly and remember fondly.

Lucius By the Lake

Lucius enjoys a walk around Lake Washington

But it is Lucius with whom I would like to spend five more minutes.

Throughout his life, Lucius was courageous, proud, and loving. On our walks, if danger seemed imminent, Vashti would scramble as quickly as she could to get behind me, while Lucius stepped forward with a low guttural warning to whatever threat was present.

For a couple of years before he died, Lucius had a hard time getting around—he had arthritis, his hind legs were weak, and he ran out of breath on short walks. When he, Vashti, and I would go for a walk, Lucius would need to stop frequently and rest, sometimes panting hard for 10 minutes before we could continue. When we headed home, coming up the long hill he struggled, but persevered each time.

Lucius loved to ‘strut his stuff’ at the dog park. He would circulate and meet all of the other dogs. He approached each one with his head held high and chest puffed out.

In the evening, he liked to sidle up to the sofa as I watched a movie—his soulful brown eyes looking straight into mine—then to the popcorn—and then back. I liked sharing the popcorn with him and made sure there was enough so he could enjoy it, too.

He always seemed to know when I was having a bad day. He would come over to where I was sitting and put his paw on my thigh to comfort me. He would let out a strange, muffled bark as if to say “I’ll stand here and comfort you until everything is okay.”

About two weeks before he died, Lucius and I went for our last walk. He barely made it back up the hill and never wanted to go again after that. Finally, he stopped eating and in a few days he was gone. I suspect he died mostly of a broken heart, never understanding why his sister had left or why he had to spend every day alone.

Lucius was the type of soul who gave more than he got. I would like five more minutes with him to go for one more walk, to share one more bowl of popcorn. Mostly, I want to place my hand on his shoulder, to relieve his sorrow and pain. I want to tell him what a wonderful companion he was to Vashti and to me, and that we found comfort in his courage. More than he will ever know, I miss his love and keep him with me every day.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Dog

A Lucky Man, Klaus’s Story, Part V

Written by Teri on April 21, 2010

Klaus Citterman

On Monday, April 5, we started running Klaus Citterman’s story, which begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer.

Teri, who chronicled the last six years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With.

Klaus’s Story, Part V

One of my most special moments with Dad, and another story I wrote about him, happened in 2005 when he still lived at home.

A Walk With Dad

It’s a beautiful brisk day and I walk at a snail’s pace with my Dad. We tread side by side down the familiar street where he’s lived in the same red, ranch-style house for 43 years–the house where I grew up.

He walks slowly and deliberately with his cane in hand, though he often picks it up as if it’s a mere nuisance getting in his way. We speak in broken connections and he wonders why he can’t remember things and why he feels scared. He tells me that he feels anxious, like something is always wrong.

We pass a neighbor working in his yard who greets us. I haven’t seen Fred since I was a teenager. He must be in his early sixties by now.

Dad recognizes Fred. I can see him working hard to connect the words for a sentence. He tells Fred that his grandson is coming to see him later this afternoon, which is really exciting because Danny is adopted.

It’s true that Danny was on his way to my parent’s house to pick me up for dinner and my Dad was really looking forward to seeing him. But Danny is not adopted.

In fact, no one in our family is, which is why it was such a funny thing for him to say.

It’s funny and tragic all at once.

He has become a kind, calm man, which is contrary to the Dad he’s sometimes been. Today he is someone different, with whom I like spending time.

He’s funny when he’s not trying to be and is simply who he is–uncomplicated.

Dad and I turn around and begin our walk toward home. When he attempts to pretend nothing’s wrong, it zaps his energy.

Now, we’ll go inside and I’ll make him a salami sandwich on rye bread with butter. He’ll pour himself a glass of milk and stir in gobs of Hershey’s chocolate. He’ll eat his sandwich and then fall asleep on the sofa for the rest of the day. I’ll have a cup of jasmine tea with my Mom.

In this new person, while some parts of him stay and others go away, there are little things that remain my Dad.

He still goes around the house and turns the lights off, even when you’re trying to read. He still likes his privacy, even though dressing has become too complex for him to maneuver alone. He still wants to hold the door open, even though he requires help going through it. He still wants to protect his family.

These are things the things that make up his essence and no matter what I believe-–a soul is authentic.

We continue walking. I am on the left and he on the right.

With a gentle hand, he reaches over and moves me to the inside while he moves to the outside.

“Why did you do that?” I ask.

“Because you could get hit by a car.”

While he changed as a character in my book, his character never changed. He made his own luck, and perhaps we learned a little bit of that from him.

How lucky were we were.

More stories from: With My Dad

A Lucky Man, Klaus’s Story, Part IV

Written by Teri on April 19, 2010

Klaus Citterman

On Monday, April 5, we started running Klaus Citterman’s story, which begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer.

Teri, who chronicled the last six years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With.

Klaus’s Story, Part IV

Over the next few years, Dad’s life became more limited, by mental, rather than physical, incapacity. He lived at Encore Village and could count on one visitor almost every day. As Mom entered his cottage, oftentimes his bright blue eyes would greet her and he’d throw his arms in the air.

“Look! My wife is here!”

Mom would take him for walks in the courtyard, even though sometimes he would steal her walker, leaving her stranded. She would accompany him to dances, with Dad looking dapper in his coat and tie. Mom would make sure he’d go on the fishing trips and to the courtyard barbecues. Every day, she’d leave him with Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses.

He was very lucky.

They celebrated 61 years together. And after 61 years, they still couldn’t get enough of each other.

We should all be so lucky.

Part V: The final installment of Teri Citterman’s remembrance of her father, Klaus.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Dad

A Rare Northwest Rainbow

Written by on April 19, 2010

I have been very remiss in posting Editor’s Notes the past few days. . .demands from my “other life”–my food-and-wine-writing career–have kept me busy (deadlines!), plus Spencer and I have been remodeling our condominium unit, so lots of work and a few worries related to that.

Seattle Rainbow

Anyway, on Saturday evening as we headed across Lake Washington for a bit of r&r, to enjoy dinner with dear friends at the fabulous new French bistro, Artisanal, we felt so blessed to witness a rare Northwest rainbow from our car window.

I swear, you could see faint images of a second (double) rainbow as well as both ends of the magical apparition. Strange that one side seemed to hover right over Microsoft magnate Bill Gates’s waterfront compound even though he has (obviously) already found the pot of gold. :-)

I wish us all many rainbows in our lives. . .and hope rainbows are a common site for our departed loved ones. . .and also for those somehow lost to us.

More stories from: Editor's Notes

A Lucky Man, Klaus’s Story, Part III

Written by Teri on April 16, 2010

Klaus Citterman

On Monday, April 5, we started running Klaus Citterman’s story, which begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer.

Teri, who chronicled the last six years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With.

Klaus’s Story, Part III

In 2005, three years into the interview process, Dad was diagnosed with Lewy-Body Dementia.

L-BD is a strange disease. I’m told it’s one of those “less-than-two-percent-of-the-population” types. It is not a dementia that wipes away memory completely. It is cruel in that it leaves a person cognitive enough to know that things are dreadfully off.

That’s what scared my Dad. He knew there was something wrong and that he couldn’t gather his thoughts to make sense of things or communicate in the way that he wanted to. He knew that something bad was happening.

Yet strangely, as cruel and unforgiving as Dad’s dementia was, there was also a brightness to it. While it stripped away important aspects of his former personality, it also created new ones.

At least that’s how I chose to see it.

In my father’s case, as dementia seized his brain, it brought with it hallucinations and paranoia. I stopped interviewing him, but I did not stop observing. His personality changed in many funny and touching ways and introduced a new character to my book.

Before he died, my Dad had a gentle vulnerability about him. It’s something I’d never seen before, and I got to know this new phase of who he was becoming. He was calm and quiet and more talkative.

When he incorporated words that I’d never heard him use, I found it fascinating. He wanted to be heard, wanted to be understood–whether he was making sense or not.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want?

Part IV: Life at Encore Village

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Dad

A Lucky Man: Klaus’s Story, Part II

Written by Teri on April 14, 2010

Klaus Citterman

On Monday, April 5, we started running Klaus Citterman’s story, which begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer.

Teri, who chronicled the last seven years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With.

Klaus’s Story, Part II

There was a new girl in town–fresh from Kansas City–and a rabbi’s daughter to boot. Ruth was smart and beautiful and popular with the boys. The two were set up on a blind date. History shows they were meant to be.

But she didn’t make it easy. While she continued to flit and flirt accepting the other boys’ invitations for dates and dances, Dad waited patiently in the kitchen with her parents until she came home. Perhaps that’s why he was always short on patience–he used it up waiting for her.

Finally, Ruth put her eggs in one basket. On Feb. 20, 1949, they got married. Shortly after he became a husband, he became a dad–to Judi, Ron, and Darr.

Dad loved cars and worked hard in the automotive industry, sometimes working more than one job at a time. This often meant that life for his family (swim meets, gymnastic meets, football games) happened without him. But I believe he tried his best.

More than a decade later. . .surprise!. ..he became a dad again. . . with me.

Wasn’t I lucky?

He was still working hard, but nearing retirement, so he had a lot more time and energy to be a participant while I was growing up. Camping trips, beach vacations, and school events–most of the time he was there, even when I didn’t necessarily want him to be.

Years went by. . .life happened. Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays were celebrated. Four grandsons were born.

Most people knew my dad as a fairly quiet, demure person. But as I observed him, interviewed him, and recorded his stories, it was as if the floodgates opened. He became “the guy who wouldn’t shut up.”

Part III: Lewy-Body Dementia

More stories from: Featured Story

Visual Stimulation

Written by on April 13, 2010

One of the great joys of starting Five More Minutes With is that it prompted me (well, actually propelled me) to go through scads of treasured family photographs looking for the very best ones with which to launch the site.

By now, if you’ve even just scratched the surface of FMMW, you’ve seen photos of our dearly departed feline companion, Bo-Bo. And my very first childhood cat, Diamond. Along with several of my mother, and of Spencer’s and my grandparents.

But soon, in addition to the family photos, I realized I also needed some more general images. . .ethereal images of sun, moon, and water. And so early one morning around 5:30 a.m., as I walked into the main room of our studio, I encountered what seemed like a magical scene of a harvest moon (or perhaps a harvest sun, as the sun was soon to rise) overhanging Elliott Bay as a ferry boat slipped into its dock.

Five More Minutes With Sunrise

I wanted to share it with you today for a bit of visual stimulation and inspiration. Enjoy!

More stories from: Editor's Notes

A Lucky Man: Klaus’s Story, Part I

Written by Teri on April 12, 2010

Klaus Citterman

Starting today, and in five installments to come, we’ll share Klaus Citterman’s story. The story begins with his escape at age 17 from Nazi Germany; continues as he and his parents flee to Shanghai, China; and concludes in Portland, Oregon, where he marries, builds a new life, and raises four children.

The story was written by Klaus’s daughter, Teri Citterman Bahm, a public-relations consultant, freelance writer, and award-winning wine writer based in Seattle.

Teri, who chronicled the last seven years of her father’s life, was kind enough to share portions of her memoir with Five More Minutes With.

So herewith we begin. . .

Klaus’s Story, Part I

In 2002, I decided I had a book in me, and that my father, Klaus, would be at the center of it. I set out to observe him, interview him, and record his stories. In the seven years before his death, he changed dramatically, and the book followed his lead.

From the outside, it may not have seemed that Dad was lucky. I’m not really sure if he thought he was lucky. But he was able to create lots of luck.

In fact, he was one of the luckiest people I know.

At 17, he was a cocky kid in the throes of Nazi Germany, got arrested by the Gestapo, and, with the confidence of a teenager—or simple naive arrogance—he asked a German soldier to release him. And he did.

He and his parents fled Germany to Shanghai. In 1939, it was the only port that would take refugees without visas. They settled, along with 25,000 other refugees, in the oppressive conditions of the Jewish ghetto.

He told me stories of his father, who would write note cards in his beautiful flowing script. Dad would deliver them to the office buildings in the French Quarter of Shanghai—direct mail, if you will—advertising a “European-Style Lunch.”

And stories of his mother, who made soup from whatever they could salvage, then sold it in order to earn enough bread to survive.

And how he felt more scared of the Japanese when they occupied China than of the Nazis.

After his father died, young Klaus became the family breadwinner and helped his mother survive their remaining years in China.

Somehow, “lucky” man that he was, he always managed to find work when work was scarce.

Dad came to the U.S. in 1948 and chose to build a life in Portland.

Back then, I doubt he knew how lucky he would get.

Tomorrow: A Lucky Man: Klaus’s New Life in Portland, Oregon.

More stories from: With My Dad
Older Posts »