“Please, Mother, don’t leave!”  Eyes brimming with tears, five-year-old Melba beseeched Mother, tugging at Mother’s hands, pulling them away from hatpin and boot buttons.  “I’ll behave!  The others won’t, but I will!”

“No, Melba, you children are so bad… I’m putting on my hat and boots and leaving!”  With that, Mother yanked her hat down on her head, stuck in hatpin with great effect, and reached for doorknob.

“No!  Please!  Please, Mother, I’ll be good enough for all of us so you won’t have to leave!”  Something about Melba’s sobbing pleas caused Mother to pause, take a long slow breath, turn, remove hatpin and hat and boots, roll up her sleeves and go to kitchen to don apron and begin the bustle of dinner preparations, as the baby slept in his daybed by the wood stove, and as the three older children shrieked in play upstairs.

Melba crumpled, crawled into a corner behind Father’s easy chair in the parlor, curled into a ball with Cat, and cried herself to sleep, sobs giving way to hiccoughs giving way to soft shallow breaths of a young child’s sleep.

Above stairs continued the giggling laughter of the three older children.

Mother, the Minister’s wife, was caring for the families of the church during the great flu epidemic of 1917.  She was weakened by her sixth pregnancy and her dedication to family and church families, and she died in that flu epidemic.

No amount of pleading from Melba could keep Mother from going out the door that last time.

The next week after Mother’s death, each child was sent to live with a different relative’s family, spread across a thousand miles of Canadian towns and villages, where they would be raised with little sibling contact.

Family was always very important to Melba.

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Teaching bdpq printing and reading

The trick for bdpq:
I put them in alphabetical order
put the circles down first, and adjacent
and the added lines, going up and going down, were like bookends.  Some
people see the circles first.
This was the one that worked best for the way my head works, and was the
one I most often used as my springboard into the exercise / lesson.

When this didn’t work, on occasion, for others,



was to draw four vertical lines, two above and two below, immediately

then add circles, two immediately above and two immediately below,
attached to each of the lines.  Some people just see the lines first.

But not everyone sees the same way and involving the child in the
decision is an excellent way to give her/him ownership of the trick,
which I found to be a huge way to help then to engage and remember.

No matter which, each time, we giggled over making stick drawings under
the letters, a drawing of a bite (big teeth open and ready to bite), a
dog wagging tail, a queen (head with oversized crown), a pig with large
curly tail.  As we developed the pictures, we told stories around each
one and the activity could take 20 minutes per picture development.
This work was done on, or glued onto, large (experience chart?) paper,
along with lots of examples of the relative letter, into the appropriate
quadrant.  After the drawings (theirs and mine) were in each quadrant, we
added large heavy-line letters at quadrant centre.  This can be hung onto
wall over home desk, a reminder of the lesson and the fun.
The final resulting reference card would be 8 1/2 x 11, gigantic letters
at junction of quadrants written in heavy black like a marker, with
pastel simplified drawing of bite, dog, queen, pig behind the
accompanying letter.  Slip this page into a page protector for use daily
reference in classroom and at home.

Later, g could be added to the q quadrant, alongside the paper or added
onto the paper, because it is the only one with the curled line whereas
the others have straight lines.

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