Tag Archive | Mim Jacobson

Friends and Relatives, Cats and Dogs

How many friends and relatives, cats and dogs does it take to make one’s life wonderful?

Hundreds. Maybe thousands. What it takes to make a life wonderful is to learn to appreciate – to be thankful for – the  enrichment each person and pet contributes to one’s life.

Mim and Marian with Megabyte - our first puppy - in our living room in Chicago.

Mim and Marian with Megabyte – our first puppy – in our living room in Chicago – 1990.

During the last couple weeks, Mim and I have had opportunities to see lots of friends and relatives from much earlier times in our lives. That got me started thinking about all the people in our lives – in our whole lifetimes – and how much all these people, and pets, have enriched our lives.

Mim and Roger Hovey

Mim and cousin Roger in 2006.

Last Friday, we attended the funeral of Mim’s last first cousin, Roger Hovey, age 93. We drove over 500 miles to Clear Lake, South Dakota for the funeral. After the service we ate a funeral lunch in the church fellowship hall with about a hundred of Roger’s friends and relatives, and we enjoyed a couple hours of visiting, mostly with second cousins of Mim. Then we drove 500 miles home. That’s how we spent Thursday, Friday, and half of Saturday last week. The trip was exhausting, but the time spent remembering Roger’s life and talking with Mim’s relatives was incredibly refreshing.

Roger and his wife June had lived and farmed in South Dakota their whole lives. For the last 30 years or so they spent their winters in Florida. When Mim and I moved to Wisconsin from Chicago 23 years ago, Roger and June started to drive through Cambridge almost every spring and fall on their way to and from Florida for a short visit. They never called to schedule the visit. They just rang the doorbell, usually mid-morning, and came in for a cup of coffee and an hour or two of conversation. Fortunately, either Mim or I always happened to be at home when they came. The last few years their daughter Pam drove with them. We always enjoyed their short, lively visits. Each visit was a time to step out of our daily routine and enjoy both reminiscing and catching up on the current lives of these loving people from our past – in this case, Mim’s past. However, over the 20 years of their twice yearly visits, they became good friends of mine, too.

June-Roger-Pam-Gene 2006

June and Roger with their daughter Pam and her husband Gene – 2006.

The week before the funeral, Mim and I went to Chicago for a church music conference. (All this travel is very unlike us with our 24/7/365 assisted living business, but everything just happened to work out smoothly for these two trips.) The conference was great, both practical and inspiring. But even better was the reconnection with more old friends and relatives. One day we had lunch with Mim’s niece and her daughter. We hadn’t seen them in at least 25 years. That evening we had half-pound cheeseburgers and a pitcher of Sangria in the beer garden of Moody’s Pub, our old hang-out in Chicago, with Marilyn, a friend from my college days who co-owned and lived in our two-flat in Chicago with us for 13 years.

Marilyn, Mim, and Marian in the Beer Garden of Moody's Pub - 2015.

Marilyn, Mim, and Marian in the Beer Garden of Moody’s Pub – 2015.

On our way back to our motel from Moody’s we drove through our old neighborhood and stopped to see Ruth, the woman who lived next door to us in Chicago. At 98, she’s still living in her two-flat, now all by herself. Until just a couple years ago, her sister Elaine had lived with her. Although Elaine was six years younger than Ruth, Elaine passed away first. We talked about some of the changes the neighborhood has seen in Ruth’s lifetime. Her parents had built the two-flat she is still living in, 90 years later. Their family was one of the Russian Jewish families who settled in that block of Chicago when it was first being developed in the 1920s.

Ruth (left) and her sister Elaine and their first dog Jenny, visiting us in our farmhouse just after we moved from Chicago to the farm in 1992.

Ruth (left) and her sister Elaine and their first dog Jenny, visiting us in our farmhouse just after we moved from Chicago to the farm in 1992.

Zoe - dropped

Zoe – still a puppy at heart until the day she died at age 15.

One of the more current things we talked about was Ruth’s dog Zoe. Her 15-year-old dog had died less than a week ago. One of Ruth’s friends wrote “Elegy for Zoe” on her blog, MidwesternRobot.com. It’s a beautiful story about Zoe and about close-knit friendships in the neighborhood. (I encourage you to follow the link to Zoe’s story, but be prepared to shed a tear or two.)

That’s partly why I’m reflecting on how friends, relatives, and pets enrich our lives throughout our whole lifetime. That’s what makes life so wonderful. I guess that’s why the Bible tells us to love each other.

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Galatians 5:14]

Fortunately, throughout my lifetime, I have had many, many neighbors – friends and relatives and cats and dogs – who have loved me and enriched my life greatly. It’s good to take time to remember these wonderful people and other loving creatures from our past.

Mim and Pam in cemetery - 2015.

Mim and Pam in cemetery – 2015.


Mim with her kittens – quite a few years ago.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

[from “The Sound of Music” by Rodgers and Hammerstein]

One of my favorite words is “favorite.” Whenever I think about a favorite anything – song, person, food , place – I smile. I’m happy just thinking about that favorite thing, like my favorite ice cream – Edy’s French Silk, or my favorite place to go for a walk – CamRock Park, or my favorite aunt – Aunt Edith.

Last week a couple of my favorite cousins brought me two big boxes of music books – all the music that had belonged to Aunt Edith. I’ve just started going through the music. One of my favorite things to do is to go through old music and find old songs that will become new favorites.

Some of the first books I picked up from these boxes were from a series of nine books called, “Favorites – Gospel Songs, Solos, Duets, Trios” (Volumes One through Nine). The first book in the series was published in 1943, the ninth in 1981. I’m looking forward to tracing the evolution of “Favorites” in this “Singspiration” series across five decades.

Danny and Marian doing chores in the hay barn.

Another “favorite” that brings a smile to my face is my favorite Bible verse. Choosing that favorite is easy for me. When I was in grade school my mom made up charts for my brother and me. In today’s terms, they would be called spreadsheets, with the chores we were supposed to do down the left side and days of the week across the top. At the very top of the chart was a Bible verse. Each day, after we had done each chore, we were supposed to read the Bible verse and then check off the square for that day and chore. At the end of the week, if we could recite the Bible verse, we earned one point toward a prize. By the end of the month, if we had earned four points, my mom would give us a prize, usually a small toy. The first verse I memorized from this process was Ephesians 4:32: “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (I think my mom’s real motive in giving us this verse to memorize was to keep my brother and me from fighting.) This verse is my favorite Bible verse for a couple reasons – one, because I think its message is extremely important and something to remember – to be kind to each other; and two, because of my fond memories of our weekly work charts.

It’s fun to think of all different categories of favorites. All kinds of happy thoughts come to mind.

One reason the word “favorite” is on my mind these days is that Madison Magazine and WISC-TV (the local CBS affiliate) are doing a feature story on “Madison’s Favorite Nurses.” I never thought about who my favorite nurse was, although I guess it should be pretty obvious that my favorite nurse would be Mim. But I’ve learned that I’m not alone with having Mim for this favorite. Several family members of people Mim has cared for in our home nominated her for “Madison’s Favorite Nurse.” Mim was selected from among all the nurses nominated for this honor to be one of seven winners. A couple weeks ago Mim was interviewed for a short “Favorite Nurses” segment that will be aired on WISC-TV. Last week a photographer came to our home to take pictures of Mim at work in our home for the Madison Magazine article. Next month there will be a “Favorite Nurses Recognition” dinner. Mim is feeling quite honored.

Throughout November there’s an online “people’s choice” contest to select the #1 favorite nurse from among the seven favorites. If Mim is your favorite nurse, too, you can vote for her by going to www.MadisonMagazine.com and clicking on the box that says “Madison’s Favorite Nurses – 2012 People’s Choice – Vote Now.” Mim is delighted to have been selected as one of “Madison’s Favorite Nurses.” Each vote that she gets in the “People’s Choice Contest” makes her feel even more honored.

You may wonder what is so special about Mim that she is the favorite nurse of so many people. Madison Magazine quoted from one of Mim’s nomination letters on their website to explain why she’s a favorite.

Mim Jacobson is the personification of nurturing. She senses what people need and she supplies it. She turns her vast medical knowledge into everyday actions. She nurtures bodies and soothes souls. When curing is not possible she provides plenty of caring. She will always be my favorite nurse!

So, does Mim have any favorites? Mim has a favorite story about a woman she cared for who had Alzheimer’s.

I cared for her about three-and-a-half years. She never learned my name. However, one day when I went to pick her up from a respite day care center, as soon as she saw me, she said to her volunteer, “There’s my owner. She’s come to take me home.” That told me she felt safe and “at home” with me.

And finally, here’s one of my favorite pictures of Mim and Abbey at work with one of our favorite people – the one who called Mim her “owner.”

Now it’s time for you to think about some of your favorites – and smile.

Listening for God in New Ways

Mim, June, and Marian enjoying a picnic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Ravinia in the summer of 1973.

In January of 1973, almost 40 years ago, a friend of mine, June Autry, called me with a job tip. That phone call was a gift from God. The job tip led me to a job that lasted only two years, but the phone call initiated a series of events that changed my life forever.

The day after I received the phone call, I drove to Chicago to interview for the job that June had called me about – editorial researcher for The World Book Encyclopedia. I was offered the job, and I stayed with June and her husband Arden for a couple days to look for an apartment and to plan my move to Chicago. One evening I went with June and Arden to a neighborhood Bible Study. That’s where I met Mim. When she heard that I was planning to move to Chicago, she invited me to stay with her until I found an apartment. Going on 40 years, and I still haven’t found my own apartment!

Why am I thinking back to something that happened so long ago? A couple reasons. First, I’m reading a very interesting book by Ann E. Aswegan, Awakening to the Song of Your Self: Revelations by Day, Dreams by Night. Aswegan is a registered nurse and an expert in dreams. The first 14 chapters of her book are about how your subconscious tries to communicate with your conscious self while you are awake. The last 14 chapters are about how your subconscious tries to communicate with you through dreams. Aswegan’s book is very helpful to me in gaining a better understanding of how God can communicate with us through premonitions and coincidences (“by day”) as well as through dreams (“by night”). Each chapter introduces a concept, provides lots of examples – often stories of her clients’ or her own experiences, and ends with several questions to help apply what you’re learning to your own experiences.

The first chapter, “Embarking on an Inner Journey: Finding the Paths That Lead Within,” included the following questions (among others): Describe the people you value and write a few lines about what each one means to you. What do you associate with each one? What feelings do they generate within you? What do they mirror about you?

That was a fun exercise! I made myself stop writing about the people I value after I’d written short paragraphs about eight of my friends and family. (I could have continued for a long time, but I wanted to get back to reading the book. I’ll continue that writing exercise later.) Number one on my list was Mim. That’s partly why I’m thinking about 39½ years ago when I met her.

The other reason is that Mim turned 65 yesterday. When we first met, she was just beginning her career as a registered nurse, working at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago. Now we’re starting to talk about retirement – maybe in 5 or 10 years… We’ve lived most of our lives together.

Isn’t it amazing what June’s phone call about a job tip led to?

To quote from my favorite devotional book again, Jesus says:

I speak to you continually: through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, scriptures. There is no limit to the variety of ways I can communicate with you. Your part is to be attentive to My messages, in whatever form they come… [Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, published by Thomas Nelson, p. 216]

Whether it’s a phone call from a friend, an amazing coincidence, a dream, an odd feeling, a scripture reading, a favorite song, a goldfinch singing while perched on a purple thistle, a persistent memory – however God wants to communicate with me, I’m doing my best to listen. With Ann Aswegan’s book, along with Sarah Young’s devotional, I think my hearing is getting a little better.

One last note. Speaking of ways God talks to us, Ken Lund will be leading a retreat at Whispering Winds from 9am to 4pm on Saturday, August 18. The title of the retreat is “Formational Scripture Reading: From Information to Transformation.” Here’s a link to more information about the retreat:   http://whisperingwindsretreathaven.com/publicretreats.html. (You’ll need to scroll down the page to get to this retreat.) Please feel free to call me at 608-212-6197 with questions or to register.