Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ironing the wrinkles

We do it, don't we? Yep. We look at everyone else who might possibly be our age and wonder if we look that good, or maybe that bad. Age. We seem to be defined by it. How do I know? Well....

There has been a change in my visits to the doctor. For some reason I don't seem to get the same attention to my concerns as I did before. "It is just part of growing older." Hm. Well, I don't really buy that. I know my body pretty well and know that some of the changes have happened quickly. All of a sudden I seem to have red spots that pop up over night. They are the size of a dime. If I was thirty, I would be sent to dermatology. But for me, "It is just part of growing older." Another hm.

I notice that my son treats me differently. Not necessarily in a good way. Just because I can't jump down from the bleachers as quickly and could use a hand, he doesn't need to say "Hey, need a little help, Mom?" Of course I do. I just don't need his chuckling as he does it. My grand twins even inform me that I am old. Hard to understand since I sit on the floor to play with them. I play basketball with them. I will try most anything to keep involved. I'm not old!

On top of everything else, I keep getting AARP info wanting me to join and get oldster benes.  I'll get there. Just not feeling it yet. I get ads for wheelchairs, first alerts for when I tumble over my own feet, hearing aids, life insurance, walk in bathtubs, all sorts of 'old' ads. Not interested! If I am, then I will check it out. Anyway, how did they know my age?!?!?!?

We aren't old. No. We are all on a path to finding out what we will be when we grow up. We are full of adventure and eager to learn new things. We can contribute because, believe me, we have learned a few things over the years. We are a walking encyclopedia on life. We have made the mistakes so the younger generation will not need to. We have seen the worse, so we understand what is the best. We have suffered through wars, drought, flood, death and broken hearts. We know that nothing is gained without change and new ideas. Yes, we have much to offer.

I no longer compare myself to others. I applaud everyone who has leaped over adversity and survived pain. Each age is beautiful. And, the faces that accompany them are precious.

Here's too long life, lovely faces, new adventures....and wine.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Get your daily paper

On each corner. Yep, on each corner of the city, a newspaper boy was hawking papers or there was a newspaper stand. I know, I'm showing my age. There were also shoeshine boys, buses on electric cables, policemen walking a beat and people wearing their Sunday best. Dayton was a different place back then. Most of all, I remember the newspaper boys and their cry, "Get your paper! Get your daily paper!"

The newspaper has always been an important part of our society. Besides the radio, it was the only source of news. Local news was only carried in the paper (and on a party line). I remember a newspaper was always lying around at our house and in those of my grandparents as well.  Dad always headed to the mailbox first thing in the morning. He and Mom read the paper from page to page, column to column not missing a thing.

We took the Greenville Advocate, the Arcanum Times and the Dayton Journal Herald. Our household was up to date on all the news. We grew up hearing Mom and Dad talk about the news. And, it is where I learned to read the paper and to take an interest in local, regional and national news. I read the comics: Orphan Annie, Blondie, Dick Tracy, Lone Ranger, Nancy, Pogo, Li'l Abner. My favorite was Brenda Star.  I followed it to find out who sent the black orchid. Could it be Basil St. John? Every week I waited to see if the identity would be revealed. Well, yes, that was the drama in my life when I was little. Alley Oop came in for the comedy. What fun! Yes, I grew up on the comics. Every Saturday it was a battle to see who would get the color comics first. 

When my kids were small, I was clipping newspapers for major events for their scrapbooks. In looking back through family papers, I find obits tucked into the Bibles. News items important at the time were saved, recipes filed away and newspaper birth announcements tucked into birth announcements sent to our home. Each part of the paper was important.

Things are changing with online news not to mention all the other sources of news, i.e., TV, computer and phone. (Oops, I guess I just mentioned them.) My oldest granddaughter Sydney and I loved to watch the Today Show together. Even apart, we both still watch it. Our favorite part is the news. I learned about our political world through the news and more about which party I wanted to belong to. I watched our government in action through the newspaper then progressively through other media. But nothing has replaced the rustle of the newspaper and the familiar warmth of reading the paper as I have all my life.

Newspapers give us a broadened view of the world. We can hold it in our hands and reread it. We hold our newspapers to a high standard expecting unbiased views and truthfulness. We learn about our neighbors and find out what events are happening in our areas. We are drawn closer through those paper pages. 

In preparing to go home, I will go through the old picture trunk and look for old news clippings. I will bring home pieces of the past. I can't do that on the TV, my phone or computer. Sometimes progress isn't nearly as good as the past. 

Get your paper! Get your daily paper!

More precious than diamonds

Take me home, Country Road. To the place I was born. The place that holds my heart, my roots, my past. Well, really I just lied, because Oregon holds my heart and the roots of my grandchildren. I have been here since 1978.

I remember when I was newly married and living in Wisconsin raising two small children, we found that every holiday was spent on the road going back to the farm. I resented not having the holidays in my own home. Then when we moved to Wisconsin, we found that our big trips were those back to Ohio. In Oregon, we found our trips were few. My roots called me home by way of guilt. I felt I had to go home. Yep, guilt is a mighty power that grabs you by the suitcase and points east.

Over the last couple of decades, I have lost many people. Most of them have been family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends who were as close as family. I know I don't have to explain this as you have found this to be true. We cannot go back and add to those times we missed. And, I mourn those times when I could have sat with all of these people, knowing the questions I would ask now. Absorbing their essence and tucking it away for when I would no longer have them with me.

I love hearing from you who also live away from home. It feels rather like making a quilt with all the threads that tie us together. The patches of lives woven by joy, sadness, faith, love. So many of us passed by one another and never knew it. Now we can be in touch and feel as though we have always known one another. We can reminisce about church, county fair, Bible school, driving the circle in Greenville on a Saturday night and, sometimes, tobacco fields.

Growing up, I was the youngest in my family. Hanging out with older people was normal to me. Now as one of those older people, I realize what my visits meant. I realize how loved ones watched over me and followed my life. Perhaps I am a better person now for understanding the gifts of love and recognition. Maybe I can pass on an understanding of the fragility of life and write about the past for those 'young'uns' who will someday, many years down the road, understand how I feel now.

Yes, I am going home. A suitcase is packed. Summer clothing for Key West and St. Augustine then layers and sweaters as we meander our way north. When I asked the twins what they wanted me to bring back, the combined answers were shells, crystals, diamonds and toys....in that order. Hm. I intend to come back with stories more precious than diamonds. I will absorb every bit of the earth, the sky, the towns and the feelings I left behind. Watch out, Neff Road! We are on our way. See you all May 4 from 1-5pm at Turtle Creek Country Club.

Monday, April 8, 2019

As they grow

As they grow, so, too, do I. The distance in their ages grows more and more each year with Sydney a soon to be junior in college, Gabby a soon to be senior in high school and the twins soon to be seven. The distance between them grows, and this grandma wants so much to slow it down. What bridges have I made that will last the test of time. When will the gap lessen and understanding awaken?

I was born ten years behind my eldest sister and seven behind the next. I remember only glimpses of them when I was small. A sister who teased. A sister in college and her life. Vague memories that peek in once in awhile. I long to have had more of them in my childhood so try to make up for that gap as an adult. We build bridges over time that lessen that gap in age. We set age aside and became closer.

Sydney held Nolan in her arms. Her sister held the other twin, Emma. "I wish we were closer in age," said Sydney. My heart lurched. The past came pouring over me. I got it. I get it.

These adult granddaughters love their twin cousins. They do not see them often, and, when they do, it is a struggle between begging little ones and adult conversation that interests them. The gap widens. When Gabby goes off to college, that gap will widen even more. When Sydney begins life out in the world, the leap will be enormous. I see it. I feel it. How I want my family to always remain close. How I want to live to see it. Yes, it is not always easy being a grandparent.

I have talked to Sydney and Gabby about how important their presence will be in the lives of Emma and Nolan. We cannot leave behind who we are and what we feel unless we do something about it now. The girls know that I hope they will always strive to be in touch with the littler ones. To tell them the stories about their growing up and their family. They are the keepers of the future and the family. A heavy burden? No, a gift.

The beauty of any family relationship is that is shapes itself constantly. What we teach the children of their past is not only the passing of information, but it is showing the example of caring to relate history with all of its foibles and tears. The people I hold dear who have left this sphere are so embedded in my heart that I cannot keep their history quiet. It fills me with love and laughter that I can do nothing with but share it. Pictures. Old trunks and boxes of memories. All of the parts of me  and my family.

So many older people are reducing their households. I have gone to auctions and seen a suitcase full of snapshots, old postcards and letters tossed into a box. So many things that are of a past tossed aside, because who will want them. Well, let the next generation make that decision. Don't lose your past.

When my parents passed, we three girls were the only ones allowed to go through the house room by room, going through absolutely everything. Our children told us what they would like to have. We drew numbers, so in each room, we followed the draw. Truly it was an emotional experience. We found things we never knew Mom and Dad saved. We read cards, sorted through pictures and looked through scrapbooks. We learned about our parents in a new way. In returning to our homes, we packed away memories, finding that most of the things went home with us. We found a new friendship in one another. We said good-bye together, feeling the same sense of loss and thankfulness for what we had.

So, you see, as they grow up it is important to realize the importance of ourselves. For in watching and listening to us, they will build their own history. They will know us better. And for us? Well, we leave more of ourselves behind, knowing that we leave it all in good hands.

Monday, February 25, 2019

On a wagon in a field

And, the movie of the year is......Green Book!!! Oh, yes, I cheered. We saw the movie and fell in love with it. Not only did it take me to the past but also to the present. The acting was superb. The film well written. A true story brought to light. A story of us.

Four brothers were born in Piqua, Ohio. (So was I) John Jr, Herbert, Harry and Donald were sons of a local barber who founded a barbershop quartet called the Four Kings of Harmony. His sons learned from their father just as we did from our parents. This vocal group grew into one of the longest-lasting oldie acts in American popular music, entertaining audiences for decades. Even before Pentatonix began making their own instrumental sounds, this oldie group made their own. In the late 20's this group charmed radio audiences. This quartet went on to record with Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. In 1943 their Paper Doll became one of the biggest hits of the decade with 12 weeks at the top of the charts with six million records sold.

June and I got into a discussion about where Myrtle Mack had lived and about the house across from my Uncle Bob's house on Yount Road where I was sure her son Don moved with his lovely wife Nancy. "Remember the field between that house and Uncle Bob's? It was where a wagon was pulled into the field for the singers to stand on," I said. Dad and his quartet sang warm-up for that group of boys from Piqua. June came back with, "You know Dad's quartet (a group of young men lead by Mr. Paulsgrove) travelled with them. They sang mostly in churches. Dad got a serious ear infection and had to come back home for surgery." Well, yes, I did know that, but it raised a question, especially after having seen Green Book. "Dad's group stayed in one hotel and the Mills Brothers stayed in another or maybe a tent." What?!?!? I thought that was only in the south!!! All these years I had never thought about it.

The bus pulled into the driveway. They came to do laundry at our house. We girls were thrilled to have them. When they found me in the basement singing along with my record player (which was a daily occurrence), Marva Jo Dixon lifted me onto her lap, and the girls joined me in song. Often June and I have questioned why Mom and Dad never had them stay in our house which was always open to anyone we knew or didn't know when they needed a place to sleep and have a good meal. These beautiful young women from Piney Woods Boarding School in Mississippi were not allowed to sleep in our beds. Oh, they used our outhouse and used our old ringer washer, but did not stay in the house. When their bus was parked at the church, they had no access to the inside bathroom but used the outhouses. A school based on Christian principles with students who sang in church after church were not as welcomed into homes as a white group of students would have been. It was a day and age. And, it was wrong. And, it was not the south.

The old belief that we are of different races is quickly coming to an end. Genetically, we are all the same. The colors of our skin are determined by how melatonin is affected through our genes and affected by where we live. Research the information. It is fascinating. We all began in Africa. We are all related. There is no denying it. We found this more clearly when my son did his DNA. He is indeed .01% black. He is also .02% Jewish. Our genetic makeup over the thousands of years has been influenced by mutated genes and the blending of cultures. We all started in the same place and are one race. Wouldn't it be so much better to look at the positive things we have in common rather than the differences?

Green Book brought it all home. I stepped away from that sign I saw on a bathroom door in Georgia back in the 60's: Coloreds Only. I opened the back door of my life and saw that discrimination was not only the south but right outside my door on a bus and in a field on a wagon. We can always learn and grow. I thought that we in the 60's would change race discrimination for all time. Yet, we didn't, did we? Maybe my .01% is crying out to have a voice that began for all of us in Africa.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thoughts of love

Bump ba da da, (one note down) bump ba da da, (another note down) bump ba da da, (up one note) bump ba da da. Oh, come on, you know the song. I'll just bet you played it over and over. My friend Vivian and I played this duet so often that I'm sure the piano could have played it by itself. We sang it in the car. We sang it with our friends. The sound is immediately recognized. Oh, yes.....

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do, madly
Because you held me tight
And stole a kiss in the night - Hoagy Carmichael

Valentine's Day. Ah, the love that pours from our hearts for our loved ones. Candy, flowers, little tokens and mementos of the love we embrace in our hearts. (At this point if you were here in this room, you would hear the screech of the needle flying across the record. Scratch!!!!) Wait a minute!!!! My love does not come from my heart. It is really centered in the brain. My brain may tell my heart to beat a little faster and my palms to become sweaty, but it is the brain not the heart that sends those messages. All the heart does is keep the blood pumping while our brains embrace thoughts of love. They hold memories of loved ones. They know what love is because they create the feelings. That darn heart just pumps and pumps while the brain takes on the great task of love.

I realize that a brain posted on cards or sweet verses about the brain are not necessarily pleasing; however, maybe through a contest, we could find a lovely symbol of the true keeper of love. I can see it now. Songs about the yearning brain, a brain burning with love, a brain that you are willing to give away on Valentine's Day. Ah, yes, it makes my heart, er brain, sing.

However, you would think the brain could be a little smarter in helping you not to make mistakes in love. And, maybe it does with whatever side of the brain is saying this must be love, the other side is saying not so fast! You would think that the brain would make infatuation impossible where instead it makes the heart beat faster and that rush of blood that blinds the tender heart, er brain. Ah, it is something to ponder. And, as usual, I ponder the ridiculous.

As you can see, this transition from heart to brain is a bit difficult. It was in medieval times that the heart shape came into being, so we will have a long time to change the concept of brain over heart. I close with this:

Bump ba da da, (one note down) bump ba da da, (another note down) bump ba da da, (up one note) bump ba da da. Brain and soul, I fell in love with you.

Sending love to you on Valentine's Day. Love from my...oh, well.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Defining age

Defining age. Oh, yes, I grew up knowing about defining ages. I have heard it and seen it in action from when I was a small child to the present.

When I was growing up, I had an older male cousin who married late. Most boys where I lived were married in their late teens or early 20's. I remember my parents saying that he was a confirmed bachelor. It was too late for him to find love and make a family, since bearing children after mid 30's was dangerous. Women by the same token married young and were considered spinsters if they weren't married after a certain age. Defining age.

Back then children were not immune to this age thing. Children were to be seen and not heard. You really didn't have a valid thought of your own until you were at least around the 5th grade. If you were a talkative child or one who had an opinion, you were maybe ignored or the adult nodded and smiled. We were not considered having minds that took in info and had opinions. We were just children. Impatience with an over active child was usually met with discipline instead of understanding. It was something passed on from another age.

Young women back in the 50's and 60's had little future beyond being a wife, secretary, nurse or teacher. Even then, women working with children at home was frowned on. Women did not think in terms of careers. It was a defining age.

Defining age. My mother thought that clothing should be dark and not 'frivolous' after the age of 40. She seemed to wear navy blue often. I noticed that other older women were doing the same. Their clothing became more dated, and they didn't seem to care about changing with the times. The hairstyle was the same as it had always been. When my mother was older, her daughters encouraged her to wear bright prints and pants. She loved it.

As a young parent, I tried to follow everything I was taught just as my mother had from hers. I didn't think outside the box. I was defined by the past. Those messages that were embedded in my head had me on a path that would later lead to navy blue if I didn't change. It was then that I decided to define age. In my forties, I made the conscious decision to open my mind to new possibilities and to break away from the confines of my own past. My idea about parenting and grand parenting changed. The only thing that had held me back in the past was myself. I found that as this new awareness expanded so too did the gifts that were given to my life.

Last week Loren and I were playing basketball with Nolan and Emma. Now I was never good at the game and not sports-minded in the least. Being 71+ years old and having just had a bad fall, I was a little gun shy of running around guarding a 6 year old. I envisioned all the old people in my growing up years who sat back and watched kids. Those who didn't talk to children, because either they didn't care or didn't know how. One thing I have learned and have experienced is that no matter how uncomfortable or scared it makes you, if you don't try to be involved, you short change your grandkids and yourself. I definitely could not keep up with Nolan. He is like a crab, skittering side to side with the ball; however, he (and his grandma) were quite surprised when she made a few baskets. I had so much fun! I never played basketball with my kids and missed that experience. Loren said that even if I was only able to sit on the sidelines, I would still bounce and toss a ball. I have been awkward at times in new experiences with my family, but I will not let my age and discomfort define me.

We are defining age. You and I. There is less navy blue and black and more red and green. on me and my friends. There is no old age in our lives. We drop everything to listen to the children. We are capable accepting new challenges, learning new games, finding new ways to help our children. We are not letting age define us. There truly is no defining age. There are only defining people.