Tag Archive | FAMILY

I Remember Dad….. Happy Father’s Day!

I Remember Dad…..

I remember dancing with you Dad

Aren’t I light on my feet Dad?

I remember your uproarious laughter as I said it

The bear hug of a squeeze during our dance

You carried me to your room, sharing our little moment with Mom.


I remember resting on your shoulder Dad, with my arms outstretched like wings,

Buzzing all around the house we were, weren’t we?

Me laughing and you running

You zoomed me into the kitchen and swooped me down,

So I could give Mom a kiss, and she smiled.


I remember Dad and I, singing in the car loudly and with gusto,

As off key as possible, just to drive Mom nuts,

Her face was evidence of what she wanted and prayed for,

“Oh please, stop assaulting my ears!”
I remember Dad, swinging in the swing at Buddy Todd Park

And at home too, the swing kept going back and forth,

Higher and higher I swung, trying to make it to the sky,

“Higher, higher Dad!” Heaven bound was I.
Happy Father’s Day Pops, I love you and I miss you!!


Dad and me



Hello Spring

Hello Spring

S = Summer is on the horizon, days begin to warm,

P = Pretty reflections make the water sparkle like diamonds

R= Rays of sunshine gleaming from the blue skies

I = Imagining this lovely scene kept winter’s cold at bay

N = New life, everything freshly reborn, budding all over

G = God’s gift of love and beauty, Spring!

Last Spring @ Blvd. Park, Bellingham, WA


Spring at Blvd Park

More About Me & My Journey

My religious and spiritual identity has always been Christian. However, my Christian identity has always been a bit eclectic because I do not identify all that strongly with a Christian community or culture because there is something good that I have learned and taken from all of them.   I have gone to a number of churches: Methodist, Baptist Presbyterian, Episcopalian and a number of non-denominational churches. I find that God is in my heart. He is in the forests, in the ocean and bays, in the sunrise or sunset, and in the starry sky. I do not feel Him so much in a building but I find him in the kindness and love of others, and I see Him in the natural beauty around me.

My economic class has always been of the working class background. However, I have never gone hungry, always had a place to rest my head at night, and I usually have had just enough to keep the bills paid. Ironically, my Dad’s small $400.00 monthly income was enough to buy a decent $23.000.00 home forty-two years ago. My old home would be worth about fifteen times that amount today.

I have always been heterosexual with rather traditional values. By that, I do not mean that I would not have compassion for a same sex couple, but I do not feel that I may relate to them as well if the couple had problems or confusion in that area. As a matter of fact, I do not know a huge amount about sexual issues, so that would not be an area that I could speak on with much knowledge. As for gender roles, I believe that each should do whatever they can to help the other. For example, my husband is a good cook, but I am better with the household budget.

P Psychological Maturity I believe that I have always been psychologically mature for my age. My mother expected that of me.

I consider my ethnic identity to be a European mutt because I am a Caucasian Norwegian-German with a pinch of English, Scottish, Irish, and Italian. But, I am Norwegian for the most part because both of my parents have ancestors that came from there. My maternal Grandma had Aunts who still lived there in Oslo until their deaths. My paternal Grandpa was almost born on the ship coming over here from Norway.  He was the first Gilbertson. His parents changed the name from Gulbrunsen to Gilbertson because they felt it was difficult to spell and pronounce.  Gilbertson literally means the son of Gilbert. To illustrate this, my Great-Grandfather’s name was Gilbert. On the major holidays, my mom or Grandma used to make lefse, a potato bread similar to a pita. It is served with butter and/or sugar while some people eat it as a sandwich wrap.  Another holiday food tradition among Scandinavian-Americans is dried fish (normally cod or ling, but haddock and pollock can also be used) that has been brined in lye, and then steamed until it flakes (although it still looks and feels gelatinous). It is typically served with a warm cream or butter sauce and ample amounts of beer. I do not care for it because it shakes like Jello gelatin. My family did without the beer.
While I feel this section is probably meant for discussing developmental challenges due to aging, I have had developmental challenges all my life due to my Cerebral Palsy.  I even introduced myself like this; “Hi, my name is Kathy Baker, and I have Cerebral Palsy.” I felt the need to face all the obvious questions that everybody has when they meet me. It has always been easier to deal with it from the beginning since it is visibly obvious. Besides my spirituality, this has been a huge part of my cultural and personal identity all my life. I am also in the somewhat unique position to be married and have a non-disabled daughter. I am equally a part of the disabled and non-disabled world. I have also known the pain of discrimination, being left out of things as well as being called “a stupid retard.” However, I became used to it.
The first real trauma I had was my parents’ worsening relationship and eventual divorce. This was largely due to alcoholism, infidelity and abuse. My second and worst trauma occurred when my daughter was molested and raped at four years old. I felt so terrible because I did not protect my daughter well enough. He did go to prison because I set him up to be arrested. Child Protective Services (CPS) came to the door; I thought that my daughter may be taken away because the CPS worker may feel that I could not adequately supervise her. Both my husband and I were scared to death!

In my family history, I lived as an only, lonely child until I was eleven years old when my brother was born. Our parents split up about a year later. We stayed with our mother, .and we saw our father once a week if the two of them did not start an argument. Dad would either go home early or not come at all if that happened. After the divorce was final, they both remarried quickly, about two months apart.

Since I have been in a wheelchair or power chair for if I can I can remember, my chairs have been my unique characteristic, something that I alternately blessed and cursed because the chairs gave me a measure of independence, yet not as much as I desired. I now consider the chair a part of me – as much a part of me as my own legs.
I grew up in San Diego County, California near Camp Pendleton, a Naval/Marine military base. Dad and my husband both served there in the Marine Corp. This contributed to making the area quite a melting pot. When I was growing about half of the students were Caucasian. When my daughter was in high school seventeen years, the same district Hispanics were in the majority, and there were issues with gangs in every neighborhood! In many of these areas, Spanish was the primary language.

When my daughter was six years old, we lived in Bossier City, Louisiana for three years. My husband had been raised there. It was quite a culture shock for me because it felt like we had moved to a different country. I had never lived outside of California before. There were people who were still angry about the Civil War; this included my husband’s father. Racism and the nigger were a part of daily life. There was racism against the whites as well. Children tried to take my daughter’s coat right off of her. Her glasses and her shoes were taken during P. E. class. My husband was nearly robbed and beaten on the way to the car after work a few times. Employees began to walk in groups to their cars at night.

My Significant Culture Identities

            My belief in a higher power will help me show compassion and empathy toward my clients. It will help me to put myself in their shoes enough to understand their point of view. Even though I will not be able to overtly share my beliefs with them, I can certainly pray for wisdom so that I will help them to improve their lives. I can ask that they will be receptive to my ideas and suggestions because I only want the best for them. I hope that will be evidenced in my words and actions.

I would imagine that I will have little trouble relating to my clients in terms of economic background either. Many of the disabled and retired people are on a limited fixed income. This should allow me to direct them to helpful resources right away as I know about some of them from my own experiences. Knowledge of what type of resources are in the community is very helpful and will probably save me a great deal of time in researching them.

I view of how much of my ethnic identity has been lost in my own family, I believe I can understand the struggle to assimilate the “new” American culture vs. keeping some and passing down the cultural belief from the home country? How much of the new culture does one learn and incorporate into life? How much of the old culture does one keep or give up? Those are difficult questions to answer, yet they must be answered by each family. In centuries past, it seemed as though the decision was made on the ship on the way here. My great-grandfather changed the family name to assimilate much easier. But, the process of legal immigration was much easier when the U.S. had a much more open door policy toward coming here. In California, I met several families where some members were here legally while others were not; consequently, they had a terrible fear of being found out and deported. This may have a great deal to with how much they assimilate – their legal status. The path to citizenship can take years, and the amount of time varies widely (U.S. Immigration, 2011). My time living in California and Louisiana will help me to understand some of the challenges and differences of ethnic diversity that may face some of my clients. There are things that whites could learn from other cultures as well. For example, African-American or black churches really reflect joy in the worship while we tend to be very quiet and serious.

I can certainly empathize with the physical challenges that face the young couple in our book that have the young boy with Cerebral Palsy since my parents and I dealt with many of the same difficulties. For example, my mother was unable to work because arranging care for me was not an easy task and the cost of it was prohibitive. However, there are more services available than I was a child. I would love to work with such families to offer them hope and support.

My family had enough trauma and dysfunction that I will be able to recognize it and offer more effective ways to cope with it. For example, my mother was molested by the neighbor, but she kept it a secret because she did not think anyone would believe her. I handled it very differently when it happened to my daughter. I knew something was wrong, and she finally told me. I would pass that on to my clients that secrets solve nothing and to trust your child if he or she tells you this because it is seldom made up, especially by a young child. According to the American clients Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2014), the cases of reported cases of molestation are about 80,000 annually, but the real number is much higher. There can be many reasons why the child may not say anything; fear is a major part of it. Without going into personal details, I can share some of the things with my clients what I know about it such as never blaming the child for what happened.

As for privilege, I am a Caucasian-Anglo American and was born and raised here in the U.S. However, I feel that I have enough disadvantages that I am still able to relate well to most of my clients. I am a disabled woman; that makes many types of employment difficult, if not almost impossible. I cannot drive either; this means that I depend on the city transportation system. This keeps me home at night and on holidays because it does not run late at night or on major family holidays.

Visual Identity vs. Self – Identification

            This can be a touchy subject. It has to do with how others see me versus how I see myself. I am a female and I see myself as one. However, many people hear about my Cerebral Palsy or see my power chair, and they incorrectly assume that I am lacking intelligence and/or common sense. I try to prove that assumption is wrong as fast as possible. A few minutes of conversation usually does it without me having to directly address it. If it should come up in a work setting, I will do my best to put them at ease, and I usually succeed at it.

How the RESPECT Model Helps Me

I feel that the RESPECT Model helps both the client and me, the counselor, in the first few meetings most of all. It gives me a guide in which to obtain helpful information. The ten elements or factors will give me an idea of the current state of mind of the client and his or her way of thinking. Based on the responses of the client, I should get some knowledge of what the issues are that causing problems for the client or family. At the same time, I will start to form impressions of strengths and issues that do not need so much work. Does the client or family have any other supports to help get through difficult times?











Ivey, D’Andea, Ivey et al (2002) Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy – A Multicultural 

  Perspective (5th ed) Allen & Bacon Publishing pp. 1-9.






Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Don’t forget to give thanks,

On this day, there is someone

Who dares to share dreams.

Your dreams, your great hopes.

You are His from head to toe.

Reach out and reach UP.

Haiku Challenge #124: Dream and Darepraying-hands

I Love You Grandpa

Grandpa, it is hard to believe that it has been thirty-one years,

Since cancer ripped you from my life, awash with tears.

Scrubbing on the dishes, not knowing what else to do.

Hearing Grandma’s anguished cry, I knew I had lost you.

I miss you Grandpa – your sense of humor and ready wit,

You were an unique combination of kindness, strength and grit.
I tried to fill your gigantic shoes; though I didn’t do very well,

But you would tell me on the negative not to dwell.


I can’t help but ponder how things would have been if cancer never took you,

Because it was you who held the family together; you were that special glue.


Grandpa & I used to fish here. Photo courtesy of Bing.


Voices from My Heart

Voices from My Heart

It was 1967, I was three years old and my parents rolled me into the biggest room I had ever seen with kids in wheelchairs from the ages of 3-12. My eyes were drawn immediately to the blackboard, the long table slightly to the right, the play area and a yellow piano. As I took in the scene with my keen eyes, I saw a young girl. She was so pale and fragile and not much larger than me even though she was nine years older. Elizabeth, unlike me, who was very loquacious could not speak or feed herself. She had a smile brighter than sunshine, and she beamed whenever she saw me. A year later, I met Bruce who had eyes the color of a blue jay and a great Tarzan yell, so I was deeply in love for a four year old. Forty years later, I carry these two in my heart; they taught me so much about grace in the face of terrible pain and suffering. At seven years old, they gave me the courage to leave them so I could help break down barriers for us and other handicapped children. Who would speak to her and bring that wonderful smile to her after I left?  I saw Bruce one last time; the light of life was absent from his eyes. Later, I learned that Bruce had gone home to be with God and Elizabeth’s Dad had placed her in a nursing home.

     Everyone at California Avenue treated us with such loving compassion as if we were their own children or grandchildren. Praise was never in short supply! “What a great job, two gold stars, Kathy!’’ Whenever one of us celebrated a birthday, we would all work together to whip up a birthday cake for him/her. I wonder how many eggs I cracked all over the table, but nobody ever raised their voices. We were our own assembly line starting with the birthday person who began by adding the precious ingredients to our much anticipated treat. It was a sneaky but fun way for us to practice our therapy skills and our counting simultaneously. It was a little tricky for me to hold the mixing bowl and stir with my right hand as speedily as possible while counting by fives: “five, ten, fifteen…’’ By the time the bowl was passed around twice, all the lumps were whipped and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   beaten out. Next, the birthday kid poured the batter into a pan with Mrs. Coles’ help. The same lucky kid was given the momentous honor of licking the mixing spoon. While waiting with great anticipation for the oven to produce its eagerly awaited treat, we loved gathering around the piano to sing and/or clap to rousing, but slightly off key renditions of Old McDonald  and other favorites. I must have had the most fun of anyone that ever went to school! Our class even put on a grand production of The Little Gingerbread Man. Bruce played the Gingerbread Man and I was the old Grandma who made him. I still recall the bright smile Elizabeth gave me as I took over the part of narrator from my teacher and my Dad’s roaring, snorting laughter that rose above the applause. I think they were so dear to me because they had the most tragic diagnoses of all the kids. In spite of that, they both kept such a bright outlook, in spite of their sad circumstances.

We went on a grand field trip to Camp Pendleton because President Nixon, who was President of the U.S. from 1968 – 74, was appearing there. We also took trips to the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. My parents often went along as helpers because all twelve of us had assistive devices: crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and/or leg braces. This meant that it could be quite challenging to keep us all together as a group since we all traveled at different paces. For the most part, these excursions were fun adventures, but these trips were also personal lessons; my first lessons that showed me people could be extremely cruel, especially toward my dear friend Elizabeth. “Look at that stupid retard!’’ This happened many times to her and anger seethed through me each time, but I didn’t know how to cope with it. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, but the cerebral palsy had robbed her of the ability to voice her agonies. I made it a point to let her know she was a beautiful, smart person; they were the dumb ones! It was around this time that I noticed that Bruce was growing weaker. Mom explained that he had Muscular Dystrophy; he was dying and that meant I would not see him again once he died. It was a difficult concept for me as I had thought that only old people died. Little did I know or comprehend how much the winds of change were swirling in my life and in society as a whole. First grade saw me mainstreamed two hours a day into a regular classroom.


I was part of a trial group selected as an experiment to see if we could succeed in class with able-bodied or non-disabled children, and if we would be accepted by them. Our success, in part, led to the inclusion laws a few years later that allowed children the least restrictive education possible. Toward the end of first grade, my parents were called to a meeting. The experiment would be expanded to see if I could handle a full day in my neighborhood elementary school. I would soon be leaving my precious friends. How would I say good-bye to Bruce and Elizabeth? I was filled with sorrow. Mom said that my new classmates could be mean to me, and my mind flashed back to Elizabeth and the heartaches that she suffered on our field trips. I would no longer have my empathetic teacher to act as a buffer from the cruelty that I may encounter. Would I also be teased and bullied?

A mixture of dread, sadness and anticipation filled me on that first day in my new school. As I rolled into the front of my second grade class, I began to introduce myself, explained about cerebral palsy etc. I was so nervous that I could not recall what I had said even a few minutes afterwards. It amazes me now that I do not recall my years at San Luis Ray nearly as easily as I call to mind my time at California Avenue School. A piece of my heart stayed behind there with Bruce, Elizabeth and the others. Part of me wanted to return because I knew that I was accepted there, and I missed my dear friends.

It turned out that it was not my academic performance or my classmates who tried to railroad my mainstream experience, it was the school administrators. They hired aides for me that they knew would not last long; Mrs. Brand was pregnant, Mrs. Stover was elderly… Mom was my aide until she caught the flu and I was forced to stay home. Flu or not, the school district had greatly underestimated a mother’s love when her child was being denied a quality education. She had college dreams for me, after all. Mrs. Deibert entered my life a few days later, and she has never been absent from it. We have had a great many good times together all the way up through my high school graduation and beyond. At this moment, I type away doing my best to fulfill a mother’s wish, dreamed so long ago. This dream has rekindled in me as well; the fire burns deep in my heart to get my degree.



So much has happened since I wrote my story five years ago that I thought another chapter was fitting.  Mom’s long suffering ended on May 21st, 2012. The nursing home said she passed away at 7AM, but I awoke at 5:15 AM as she told me goodbye. It turns out that I was not alone; she visited all those she was closest to as she slipped from this life to go to her eternal mansion. I know she thought of my Dad often since his death only two years before her own passing. It was as though the long, bitter years never occurred between them. I strongly believe that they are together once again in love and peace.

I know that they watched me walk/stroll in the arena with the other more than 500 graduates on June 18th, 2016. I am positive that their cheers joined Kristie’s’ from far above Seattle to wish me well and express their pride in a degree well earned. I sit here tonight, school done, reflecting on one of my favorite poems, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. What lies ahead for me?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I marked the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.                                                                                                               


Which road less traveled should I go? What seemed so clear a short time ago is now filled with questions as I end another chapter. Perhaps, these voices from my past will guide my path. But, do not tarry because I am anxious to get going doing the work that my God has for me. I ask for the strength and the courage to be up to the challenge. Am I supposed to be happy wherever I am placed, or do You have the ideal place in mind?3rd grade

To my brother, Glen Kristian Gilbertson – Miller

40 years ago, my first little miracle was born. Looking at him, such a big baby boy he was, I felt sure that he would be a football player. After all, I think he fit newborn clothes for about 3 weeks! He was hungry, always hungry! I should know, I begged to feed my little baby brother every day after coming home from 6th grade. Obviously, I did a stellar job; just look at his photos!

I always tried to be a great big sister; I know that I did not always succeed, but I took that job seriously! I even pitched to you! I suppose you must have been upset at all the errant throws because you aimed most of them right back   at my chest! Whenever I went out on a date and brought him home, Mom sent you back to my room to be her little spy! However, that only worked until Barry came along because he had a house and a car. Ha! Ha! I remember fondly all the pizza, burgers and Baskin Robbins we ate over the years! No wonder I was not able to save any money because there was the Arcade too! Seriously, I hope you recall some of those times! I remember the 40th birthday party you threw for me!  2 things will forever remain the same; I will always be your big – but a foot shorter, sister, and I will always love you dearly; have a happy birthday Brother!