Friday, December 30, 2011

The Positive and The Negative

One year goes to sleep resting in the bed called the past. A new year opens full of the unknown and possibilities. Maybe I will do better this year.

There are several years I was thrilled to put to rest, hoping that a new year would be better. I can't say that all of the new years were better. Just different. All years, even the toughest, had events well worth savoring.

Often I have heard people say, "Why can't life just get better? Why are the cards stacked against me? I just can't seem to win." Well, I'm here to tell you that we win every day. We are conquerors every day making decisions to help us get through whatever befalls us. We are survivors who can face adversity and find hope. We aren't down yet! We don't need to be!

I could sit here and complain about all of the things that have happened since I was laid off a couple of years ago. I could wallow in self pity wondering, "why me", but what would it prove? I prefer to think of positive change and "why not me". I don't know how to get out of this loop I seem to be living in, but I do have the ability to change the way I look at my life.

A new year is on the doorstep waiting for me to open the latch and walk through. I plan to pull up my boot straps and take that step into all the surprises the year can bring. For all of the 'oops' that might come along, I have the innate ability to chose to be positive.

One lesson I learned long ago was that a negative does not bring on a positive. Negative energy and positive energy when working together can create a power beyond them both. The power of positive thinking.

Happy New Year, my friends. I'm positive it will be a good one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cindy Lou Who

The child caught my eye, this small toddler riding along on her daddy's hip. This woman and child had a tiny moment of recognition. A woman of age recognizing the gift of the child. The child sensing the warmth of a grandparent's love. Only a tiny moment. Here and gone as quickly as the winter snowflake so lovely drifting down then gone in an instant. Yet, the beauty is remembered.

How often does it happen to you? A baby is seen in passing and the eyes meet. The baby smiles and the grandparent returns it thinking of her own children when they were babes and of her precious grandchildren. I think it is an awakening that happens when you fall in love with your children. That instant recognition of souls that are both old and new.

We live in a time of caution and fear for our younguns (would you believe this is actually a word in the dictionary?!). We know better than to approach a child yet there is a silent understanding between this beginning of life and those in the later years. You can sense the source of this feeling. I think perhaps it is the soul singing another connection into this world of chaos. Perhaps it is a higher power reminding us that there is hope for both the child and the adult.

In a world where Grinch's seem to abound, I am pleased to know that there are many Cindy Lou Who's who are teaching those who may have forgotten what it is to smile.

She smiled at me and my heart grew a few sizes larger that day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Find the Blessings

It was the first Christmas not in my own home. A strange thing to awaken at my son's house and settling into their Christmas ritual. It was the first.

The rituals we set in place in our homes when our children grow up change as our children marry and have their own families. The 'in-charge' changes to 'what can I do'. We go from the leader to the follower. Transition.

It's interesting how we spend our lives striving to have the homes and lives we want. We plunge ahead full force tweaking our lives to continually improve and move forward striving for the perfect life. I remember as a young married couple, we couldn't wait to entertain in style. We our family to consist of one girl and one boy. We strived to have the kind of life we imagined.

Well, it seems that it has taken me most of my life to understand that life is never as I imagined. I've learned that life is humbling and a journey never traveled alone. I've learned that just when you settle into a way of life, it changes. The bumps have taught me that I can ride them out. The highs have taught me that they are precious commodities.

Some choose to look at aging as a time when we have crossed over that peak of thrills and excitement, of finding those highs. I choose to think of it as a time to still make improvement in myself, my thinking, and to find out what positive can come from the adjustments in my life. Perhaps it is selfish to think that my life is all about myself.

My Christmas was wonderful. It was wonderful because I saw the good and put away the sad. I am blessed because I choose to find the blessings.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nestled in the True Meaning

Shhhhhh...the children are sleeping. A jolly man makes his flight across the sky with antlered reindeer in winter coats pulling his sleigh full of children's delights.

In the meantime, adults pull out boxes and batteries and start the task of putting together toys. I remember it well. We were up most the night on many a Christmas eve trying to figure out difficult directions for a fairly simple toy. Then shaking batteries out of flashlights and alarm clocks hoping we had the right size. Ah, the holidays.

I don't miss those times of panic and exhaustion, but I do miss that time of sleepy-eyed children dashing to the tree in the morning stopping to wake us on the way. After several years of being shaken awake at hours when the sun had not yet thought to rise, my husband and I decided  be up before the children. It was the first year that the children decided to sleep in. Argh!

When the children we young, we made our way to Ohio and the farm. Mom and Dad stood by the door waiting for their children and grandchildren to come in from their various states of residence. Sleepy parents and children came home to the nest. I know that Mom and Dad weren't busy putting toys together. No, they were busy preparing to embrace their children once more.

We make a big deal out of Christmas sometimes overlooking the simplicity of what it means. Parents try to buy everything on the child's list, so they won't be disappointed. Disappointments part of life, isn't it? Isn't there a deeper lesson to learn?

I no longer have those parents, those parents who stood by the window watching, waiting. They knew what Christmas was about. They knew that it was about love and family. It was about embracing those around them. They didn't need batteries or a screwdriver. They had an open door policy for anyone who needed a place to go and find love. Their gift of love for their children was the ultimate gift.

May the true meaning of Christmas be yours. May the true understanding of love embrace you. May we all find that the peace we hand out will grow from that simple start. We are a gift to one another. Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays, my friends.

On Neff Road: A Christmas Walk Down Neff Road

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ornaments of My Life

Not at Christmas. Oh, please, not at Christmas.


This time of the year should be all tinsel and toy, joy and happiness. Still there are shadows that come each year to visit. Shadows of past Christmas season that brought loss and sadness.

Yesterday my friend, Paulette, rushed out of the house to get her son's dog who seemed to have been poisoned. The dog indeed had gotten into something that burned his throat and poisoned his body. We all gathered round the sweet boxer hoping to give him comfort and support. This morning he returned to the vet. He is hanging in there.

When my son was a senior in high school, he had a party at our house for the choir. Accidents happen. Our schnauzer, Mandy, managed to get into the Hershey Kisses. She died. It is memory that comes every year.

My mother passed on December 14, 2000. The season doesn't roll around that I don't remember that December. My aunt who just passed was a Christmas baby. The memories roll around as does the calendar of days.

It is the birth and death of a Man who brings us to this season of love and hope.  It is the faith that we have in love that heals and brings joy. I am a Christian, but I embrace all who believe in a God of peace. We are a world suffering together. Perhaps this season we can think of healing together.


I'm not saddened because of the losses, but  I call to memory the joys of those who passed this time of the year. They are truly the ornaments of my life.


Today on A Grandparent's Voice: The Sled

Monday, December 19, 2011

You Have the Gift

A special thank you for those who have sent emails to me regarding my new living situation. I appreciate your kind words.

But enough about me. Now on to the holiday season and few shopping days until Christmas. My Christmas will be simple this year. A quiet time of reflection and blessing counting. A time with my son and his wife, Lisa, with my granddog, Millie. Gifts will be simple. Christmas music will ring throughout the house and food will grace the table. We will celebrate the holy season. We celebrate with all believers in a higher power.

This year my Christmas is about healing, finding new ground. For those of us with grandchildren, we know that their smiles alone are the best gifts of all. For those of us with good friends and children, we are blessed to have those who embrace us and want us in their lives.

It is a time of reaching out in the simplest of ways. For all we don't have, we are graced with much. For all we can't give, we can give abundantly. We are a gift in ourselves able to change a frown to a smile by just finding the smile in ourselves.

My blog will be a bit spotting since I am without internet at home, but I will keep this lazy trek through senior years going for those who want to trek along with me. Be a blessing this week. You have the gift.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Unbridled Love

For those of you who follow my blog, I'm sure you have noticed that I am at loose ends. The good idea of my daughter and I living together proved to be a really bad idea. I am trying to find my footing again. I learned that living with my child made me lose myself. The fact that I'm unemployed has not helped my self-esteem and thinking that I was doing my best and it wasn't good enough has given me another hurt to heal.

I have moved in with a good friend, Paulette, and her husband who have had similar problems with their one child. The atmosphere of healing surrounds me even though guilt and pain seem to be packed neatly in a little bundle on my back waiting for me to open time and time again. You cannot hold on to a child's love. They have to give it to you freely. You cannot buy it with good deeds and actions. It has to be discovered by the child.

I will see my granddaughters less which hurts. Sorta an empty nest feeling. However, I will see them through their father. Our time with be precious.

A friend once said that having children was too difficult and that maybe it is better without them. Oh, no. Never. Even with the pains we all experience as child and adult, the beauty of having children and grandchildren cannot be doubted. The love I give my family cannot be bridled.

I'm determined to keep my chin up and take each day as it comes. A book is in progress. A grandma is learning more about herself....and maybe liking herself a little better. A holy season is upon us and I wrap myself in its grace.

I thank you for staying with me. I am truly blessed.

On Neff Road today: The Prancing and Pawing of Each Little Foot

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Believe

Caught up in the web of deception. Wow! How often does that happen? Paint ourselves into a corner. Hm! Done that a few times. I could continue with these analogies, but I assume you've gotten the picture.

It's difficult to know where some of our dialogue with cihldren will lead us. I know that I had a very rough time telling my kids little white lies about fairies and a big elf in a red suit. I just did not feel comfy with it, but I would do what I could for my kids to have imagination and the world of delight that each child deserves.

My sister wrote that her grandson had lost a tooth. He placed the tooth beneath the pillow awaking the next morning to find that the tooth still there. The Tooth Fairy had indeed landed a disappointment. His mother, in trying to correct their lapse in pillow visiting, wrote a note from the winged wonder as to the reason of the delay and remiss in meeting said duties of tooth removal, money placement. My sister and young boy went to his bedroom to see the tooth that was still there only to find the note instead. After reading the note, Henry said, "And I always thought the Toothfairy was a person."

It will be interesting to see how this works out in the end. A door was open and a myth slammed it shut again. I'm sure that one day I will be voting for Henry for president.

I think perhaps we parents make our own chuckles. We stumble through this parenting thing trying not to miss the steps and sometimes fall flat on our faces. Thus, a new story is born.

It is a good time of the year for fairies and men in red suits. It is a time that even the adult should find a bit of mystery and step through the door of imagination.

I keep saying...."I believe. I believe."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bright Hope

Lights twinkle upon a lovely tree.
The scent of evergreen lures us in and holds us there.
Packages sent. Packages received.
Holiday parties and songs of joy.

It is a season of happiness and joy for many. A time of loneliness and pain for the 'other' many. My messages this month will be of tinsel and toys, of girls and boys, of those gather the piano 'round and those who to visit from out of town. It will be words of hope and words of peace, words that will captures and I hope, not release.

Know how blessed you are this day. Hold one another and talk only of caring. Look to the future with hope and expectation.

I write with words that I hope will inspire for you who are jobless, alone and confused. Remember, I am one of you. Without hope and healing, without forgiveness and self worth, we cannot see the light ahead. That light waits for us....is for us. You are loved. You are lovely. You are the spirit of Christmas.

Today I write words of comfort and joy looking for answers to clear cobwebs away. I look to the tree twinkling bright, smelling the scent of the forests' delight. I look to the sky for that star of bright hope. And promise myself that today I won't mope.

A smile on your lips and a cheery good-bye, I post this blog......with a tear in my eye.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Believe

His eyes how they twinkled. His dimples how merry. His cheeks were like roses. His nose like a cherry.

We've read Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas every year since the girls were small. I read it to my children. I probably just read it for myself. A story that kicks in when we are little and one we know by rote by the time we have grandchildren.

I remember one snowy Christmas Eve standing in front of our picture window in Wisconsin looking at the gigantic flakes drifting to the already white ground. The thought hung in my head like a Christmas stocking on the mantel. "I believe. I believe."

This is the year that Gabby learned the truth about Santa, the Toothfairy, the Easter Bunny. A rough time in our house. I think we all cried giving up the mythical dreams of those night visitors. "I believe."

Every night Gabby and I try to read a Christmas story. I have quite a few children's books by now and still love to read them. She bones up on her reading, and I get snuggle time with my sweet granddaughter. Her first choice of books was Snoopy's Christmas. Her second.....

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow. And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. 

Last night we decorated the house. My daughter's collection of Santa's line the countertop. Santa with toys, Santa with fishing pole, Santa in a kilt (didn't know he was Scottish) and Santa with his feet resting before the fire. To walk into our home, one would immediately come to the conclusions that indeed we believe in the jolly old elf.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth. And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

"Grammy..."


"Yes, Gabby."

"Santa shouldn't smoke."

Hm.

I believe.


On Neff Road today: Sentimental Journey/ The gift of words

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bing and Me

Bing Crosby and I have this thing going every Christmas holiday season. My granddaughters ask who is this man with the mellow croon. I guess we need to watch White Christmas.

I was doing a crossword puzzle today while waiting for Gabby to get out of school. So many puzzles have the same clues, and I wonder: How will younger generations ever figure out the answers? We grew up with the answers. Maybe I just haven't come across a new century puzzle book. Maybe I don't want to. It then dawned on me that many of the clues are even beyond my generation, but I knew the answers from the conversations of my parents and others. I new about Dempsey and Ott. I knew a little bit about a lot. Again, I attribute it to conversation. Without a wii or xbox, we had more time to listen and learn. We listened to music and made it as well.

The older I get, the more I wish I lived in a  little isolated village far from technology, noise and politics. I'd like to get up every day and have coffee with a neighbor before we shake out our rugs and sweep off the front stoops. I'd like to have simple recreation, such as a sleigh ride or ice skating on a pond. Storytelling around the yule log and giggling over a game of Pick Up Sticks. I'd like to get a yoyo in my stocking along with a wooden top. Simplicity.

So back to Bing. When he sings, I go back in time and nest for awhile. I hope my grandkids are curious some day to find out how simple life was not all so long ago. As for me, I think I'll also spend some time with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and even a bit of Maurice Chevalier. I might even practice crooning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Positive.....Pass It On

She walked through the door all smiles and hugs wrapping her arms around me. "Hi, Grammy."

This morning I got up early to take my granddaughter to school while her mom slept in. Waking up to Gabby is like waking up to joy every day. Gabby doesn't understand anger or pain inflicted by someone else. She grabs hold of each minute and fills it with chatter and energy. Her cup is never half empty. She pats the sofa for me to sit by her. We have thirty minutes snuggled together to talk and giggle. Thirty minutes of just her and me. I am a lucky woman.

A friend said that she is at her wits end, and it never seems to end. It took me back to when I was married. My husband claimed that I was negative. Of course, I had my reason. Valid reasons. I didn't want to give up my anger. It was mine and I had a right to it.

At some point I decided that I didn't want to be angry any more. My husband was off doing his thing, and I was with the children 24/7. I decided that happiness in the house was vital for the well-being of the children. For me. I handed my husband his problems and focused on healing. Every negative thought was replaced with one that was positive. After a bit of time, I found that the positive thoughts were always there, and the negative took a backseat. I changed. My life changed. My children changed.

Sometimes we seem to hold on to the negative, because it justifies our anger and moods. It's easier to not try than to make an effort to do better. It's easier to wallow in self pity than to try to smile when everything seems to work against us.  Those dark feelings get fed by everything when the negative reigns. In looking back, I wonder what in the heck was I thinking? Who wants to wake up every day ready for nothing to go right? Who wants to brood and be nasty? Who chooses to think their feelings are more important than those around them? Who wins?

I wish I could take Gabby's energy and zest and dust it across the world. I wish I could plant her beautiful happiness in everyone I meet. I try. I try to be an example. I try to step away from despair and into the light. I try to find the smile in everyone I meet.

Funny thing about positive. It can turn a day around for someone else. A smile, a kind word, a gentle hand can ease pain, loneliness and sadness. Maybe, just maybe, it can change the world.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy De-hackling!

Different views. Differences in opinion. Different ways of expression. Abstract thinking. Organized thinking. Right wing, left wing and winging it. Religious beliefs, none beliefs. On and on the list goes. Which one gets your hackles up?

Hackles. Those feelings we get when something goes against the grain. When small things are allowed to change a mood, maybe even a relationship. That feeling that is equated to the fur standing up on the back of a pet. That feeling of tension that comes unexpectedly and seems to capture our every thought. Hackles. I have them. You have them. Children develop them. They often develop them from us. I remember as a child fighting against the things my parents believed in. They made my hackles stand on end.

It's taken me a long time to learn to walk away from an argument or to turn a conversation away from controversial topics. I've gone from a rebel to a someone who looks behind the differences. We are all our roots.....what we take with us and what we leave behind. Sometimes looking behind someone makes it easier to understand where they are at any given moment.

This all came about yesterday when talking to good friends about a girl who is verbally abusive to their son. I asked if they had gone to the school. They hadn't yet. Their son was handling it causing the situation to change. I suggested that maybe they needed to talk to the school for the sake of the girl who was on a path of disaster for herself. Evidently, she comes from a bad home. A lone girl who is treated poorly at home and has no one to come to her rescue. Sometimes we need to walk behind the person to see where they've been.

I like that there are so many differences in our world. What a boring place it would be if we didn't have them. I like that we can change who we are and learn from one another. I even like that we can disagree. Hackles aren't worth the effort to raise them. They take too much energy that could be placed somewhere much more constructive. Maybe, in fact, they can be used to the positive.

Well, enough of my hackling thoughts.

Happy De-hackling!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After

It began with musical theatre, floats, balloons and Santa Claus. A cup of coffee and coffee cake. My son and his beautiful Lisa. My grandpup, Millie, who just turned one. The day began with a parade.

Like many of my friends, we had a very quiet Thanksgiving this year. The girls were off with their Dad for one dinner then off to their Grandpa's for another. It was a different Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving comes in many forms. When James was doing a show at Wagon Wheel in Indiana, my sister and I took him to Thanksgiving at a hotel. Tables and tables were piled high with food. Years ago I spent the day with friends when my children were with their father. It didn't matter how I spent the day, I was thankful.

I don't think that I'm alone in saying that it is a day of memory. A day of being thankful for those times I celebrated with my parents and sisters. A time when family piled into the house with activity in every room. I remember those no longer here. I remember the sad times as well as the happy. I appreciate because I remember.

I don't stand in line on Black Friday. I dislike the name and dislike what it stands for. Commercialism takes away from the day of family, the day of appreciating what we have....not what we can buy the next day.

The day ended with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen singing "White Christmas". Another Thanksgiving is gone. Still the sweet day lingers.....and I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Words of Thanksgiving

Thankful. Thankful for the following words:

Hope
Love
Faith

Hope that keeps us trying. Hope that keeps us believing. Hope that bouys us up when we think we cannot succeed.

Love that is without boundaries. Love that makes life worthwhile. Love that we wear when the days are cold. Love that we give and love that comes back to us.

Faith that gives us hope and teaches us love. Faith that carries us when we cannot carry ourselves. Faith that allows us to believe in miracles.

Thanksgiving this year for many is a difficult time. Hunger, loneliness, desperation are companion of too many. There are those who are thankful that they are not one of the aforementioned, but when one suffers so too do we all.

We are in a world that mourns and grieves. A world that is hungry and poor. But again, there is faith. There is a Thanksgiving prayer to heal a world. There is a Thanksgiving word that we send out through our faith. It is love.

I am thankful for my family, a warm place to live, a coat to wear, peanut butter in the pantry and a warm bed to sleep upon. I am thankful for the freedom of speech, the privilege of voting and for the country in which I live. I am thankful for those I love and for the love they give to me.

For those of you following this blog, I am thankful. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving embracing the gift of your life. Gods many blessings on each and every one of you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grandparent

Blogs, blogs, blogs. Grandparent blog numbers are climbing. Grandparents are talking. The conversations bring together ideas. The contact brings comfort. The words sometimes echo what we cannot express. Blogs, blogs, blogs.

This morning I was thinking about the word grandparent. Sure it means that we have grandchildren, but there is much more, isn't there? The word means that our children are older, adults who no longer need much from us. The word means that we are either turning into seniors or are seniors. Grandparent means that we are what we remember of our grandparents. The word means that we are experiencing a part of our lives that we thought was in the far distance only now to discover that we are there. Grandparent.

What more can we say about grandparenting? We all share the ins and outs of children and their children. So what more is there to say?

There is much to say. We are very aware of our age, our place in time by looking at our families. Those we have raised and those we are helping to raise. I know I am not alone in saying that this is sometimes a scary place to be. Instead of that youthful thinking that life goes on forever, we find that in reality forever went pretty fast. We try not to complain about the aching bones. We try not to voice the sometimes confusion we have in understanding where we belong at this time of our lives. We try not to look beyond the now. We are lonely if we have no mate. We want someone to talk over the concerns we have. We want someone to just hold us. There is much to say that often we are afraid to say. We are afraid that no one else feels the same. That no one else is ever a bit afraid.

I'm working my way through this thing of aging and grandparenting. Perhaps my grandchilden are my regular dose of positive, along with hope. I find that it doesn't pay to worry about tomorrow. I need to be thankful for today. I owe it to myself and my family to take care of myself mentally and physically.

Blogs are important. They give us a place to share, to learn, to find a voice. We are at a wonderful place in our lives, Grandparents. We are important to our families. We have wisdom that only comes with age. We are the history of the past. We are the loving arms that give freely the love we have for our families. We are a valuable piece of the lives of those who love us in return.

A voice does not need to come in the form of a blog. It can come in the stories we tell our grandchildren. In the notes we write to our children and grandchildren. In the diaries and journals we keep.

The voice of a grandparent......it is yours. It is as important as you are.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Important Time with the News

This morning I watched a news article regarding the little girl who killed herself because of bullies. Ten years old.....

"Gabby doesn't know about suicide," my daughter said.

I told her that she would be surprised what her ten year old daughter knows. What she knows about bullying, suicide and heartache. We parents would be surprised.

Sydney loves to watch the news with me. We have done it for as long as I can remember. As she aged, so did her questions about what we were watching. Doors opened for dialogue. Now she asks for the news to be turned on. We watch the stories of the world we live in. We learn to communicate and talk about subjects that are not always comfortable. Her world expands beyond our house, our community, our country.

Gabby likes Sponge Bob better than the news, yet the conversations that happen between her older sister and me sometimes draw her in. We learn together about real life. Sponge Bob fades away for a few moments.

My heart aches that there are children out there hurting and have not the tools to deal with their situations. Desperation at such a young age should never be allowed to happen yet it does time and time again. We had bullies. Many of us have scars from cruel actions of other children. The innocent heart hurts from learning that there are mean people in this world. Confidence is ripped from them. Maybe they start to believe the words. Maybe they see no way out. Maybe they give up trying.

No child goes through childhood without being hurt by another child. Teaching our children that they can come to us and that we will be their voice is the most important tool we can give them. Listening to them from their standpoint and not our years of experience is so necessary. Taking steps to make sure that our children are protected even at our own discomfort can be no less important. I believe that schools need to step up and teach not just that bullying is bad, but to erase the roots and causes of bullying so those kids can change their behaviors. Bullies beget bullies.

I grew up in a time of conversation. I grew up with adults talking about crops, neighbors in need, world events. No one really talked to me, but I was drawn to those conversations learning with each one and later getting involved in the conversations.

We sit watching the television. Wars rage, hunger strikes, people are homeless and sometimes we hear wonderful stories of heroes at home and abroad. We sit beside one another often snuggling under a blanket sharing time together. Precious, important time.

"I like it when we sit and talk about things," Sydney once told me.

Me, too, Honey. Me, too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brain File

She fell into my embrace sobbing. Her little body wracked with pain from everything small that seems so big to a child. I held her quickly going through my brain file trying to find the wisdom to deal with the present crisis. Grandmas do not come with all the answers.

A friend came home from school with Sydney. She is a friend of both girls. She is a year younger than Sydney and about one and a half years older than Gabs. Gabby is petite and often treated as a small child even though she is ten. She longs be respected for who she is not by her size.

Gabby brought home a paper she needed to finish so she could hand it in today. This sweet girl struggles with writing and reading. So when she has something like this to do, it is a major task. The friend purposely tore her finished homework page. I don't think it was vicious, but nonetheless, it was not nice.
The act was not my focus as I held this sweet girl in my arms. I knew the homework had to be done and that it would be a struggle for her. My responsibility was to see to the child.

My brain file didn't have a section for this situation. I was going to have to wing it on my own. So I did. I sat with her as she did her work, trying to keep the positive pushing away the negative. All the while, my heart ached for her. We did the healing together. We did the homework together.

Gabby would never purposely hurt someone. She is such a loving, tender heart full of life. Her deepest hurts come when someone purposely hurts her. She has no understanding of such acts. She is confused when vicious acts occur. So am I.

I think in the end, Gabby learned something about herself and her grandma. One more time I could be there for her and help her through her pain. One more time we could find laughter after the tears. One more time I could help her learn about respect and responsibility.

Gabby handed in her paper today. I doubt that her teacher will know that this is a very special piece of writing. Gabby also was a different person today having overcome her disappointment to achieve her goal. She is small in stature but so very big in heart.

My brain file seems to expand only by the incidents for which I have no answers. Being my age and having white hair does not make me a sage by any stretch of the imagination. Being a mother didn't give me all the answers.

I am a grandma seeking answers. Thank goodness the brain file is expandable.

On Neff Road today: Remodeling the Family Tree
www.neffroad.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creativity has No Boundaries

"I could never do that. I'm just not creative."

"Wow, I wish I could write....paint....sew..... ." The list goes on.

Stop the excuses!!!!! There are no boundaries for creativity. However, if you don't go looking for it, you may never find it. The only thing keeping someone from finding their own creativity is the lack of trying.

My sister is an artist. She taught art for years. I look back at my earliest pictures that Mom held on to. I could draw stories. They were primitive, but still, a story complete with pictures. We were pushed towards music which was in our blood to begin with. But what of our other talents.

I knew I wanted to dance....our church didn't believe in it. I knew I wanted to create stories but was told that no one could make a living in the arts. I met resistance at every door to discovery.

Athletes were given many outlets. Parents supported the boys. Girls could twirl a baton or cheer for the team, but none were encouraged to be artists.

I discovered a couple of years ago that I could draw. I wasn't fantastic, but I loved it. The problem now is my arthritic hands. I long to know what I could have done had I been encouraged to just try it when I was younger. It wasn't my lack of outlet that held me back. It was my lack of understanding that I could step outside of what I knew and to just give it a try despite resistance.

I think we use excuses for ourselves and our children keeping creativity hidden. Perhaps there isn't money for lessons....or time. Perhaps we adults see other things as more important. Maybe we are too particular expecting perfection in efforts instead of just encouraging.

I learned to color inside of the lines. It was important that I learn that control. Now the kids color and create backgrounds behind the black and white lines. They open their minds and open doors to creativity.

Adults! I want no more excuses. You are never too old to try. Perfection is not a consideration. Whatever you do will be your own voice, your own expression. There is no wrong. All efforts are right. I never had the encouragement. Now pain restricts my efforts. Creativity has no boundaries. I believe that creativity is the link between all men and women around the world. I believe that we should creatively find ourselves in order to find a happiness that belongs to all.

Creativity has no boundaries...creativity tears down boundaries.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We Lift a Glass

We lifted the glass in celebration. The synopsis is written, the music recorded. My son's musical, The Dance, is ready to send to regional theatres in hopes that it will be produced.

If you have followed this blog, you know that my son has followed his dream as an actor and singer since he graduated from Northwestern University. His career has been met with much disappointment along with the high points that have kept him going. Sometimes it's not easy to follow the dreams.

James knew that he wanted to write a show for his grandfather about WWII. Over the last couple of years, the story has gone from a roughened script to a completed show. Pieces have fallen into place. Jane Thatcher, who wrote the music, came to him through a mutual friend, a woman I taught acting to when she was a child. The show moved forward by the support of Lisa, his wife, and friends who were wanted to help. After many readings, rewritings and stage readings, it came together.

Maybe the show will be produced in your area some day. Please join me in making a toast to my son and his production of The Dance. Please join me in sending positive energy his way.

Thank you, my readers.

For the next few days, you can hear the music at this site (James and his wife, Lisa, sing Ivory Moons together and separately on other songs):  http://www.thedancethemusical.com/demo.html




Monday, November 7, 2011

Pieces

A piece here. A piece there. Slowly but surely the picture comes into view. It isn't the picture that I strive for but the journey to get there. Confession: I am jigsaw puzzler.

My puzzling addiction began when I was a child sitting at the card table with the older women in my family. Over the Christmas holidays, a puzzle sat on the table waiting for someone to come calling. Cousin Betty and I actually became close over these puzzles. I learned about these women in my life. I learned that puzzling was more than finding pieces.

When the leaves begin to fall, my puzzles begin their journey from storage to a warmer room. I start with the border pulling out all of the pieces that will build the frame of the rest of the picture. Straight sides easily found and hooked one to the other. Slowly the picture begins to evolve. Sky at the top. Ocean at the bottom. One heck of a lot of blue. Gradually the rest of the pieces fall into place.

I'm pretty good at doing puzzles after all these years. I love the search, the find, the building. Getting to the last piece is sometimes disappointing, because I don't want it to end, rather like a good book. Piece by piece a story is told in picture. Piece by piece the puzzle journeys toward its return to storage.

Sorta like life isn't it. Easy to find the border, but it is journey to find the pieces that create the picture, that create our lives, are a little more difficult to find. We finish one picture and go on to the next. Working with other to create a beautiful work.

I'm on my sixth or seventh puzzle and ready to retrieve the Christmas puzzles in about a week. I only allow myself the luxury of working on the puzzle in the evenings. I refuse to let life pass while I sit at a table picking up little pieces.

We are the pieces that create the picture. I pray the picture be beautiful when it is finished.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kiss of Sunshine

The alarm went off. My room was as dark as it was when I closed my eyes last night. The room was chilly as I tried to put my body, still asleep, into some warmer clothing. Stacey had a day off. I offered to take Gabby to school. Duty called.

I lit the fireplace then sat on the stairway waiting for Joel to drop her off. He would be on his way to take Sydney to school while I took Gabby a bit later to her school. Soon the car pulled up and both girls ran to the house. A quick hug from Sydney, and she was gone. The house had been dark until Gabby walked in. Gabby brought in the sunshine.

Before I could get into the room, Gabby had begun to clear off the sofa, so I could sit next to her. We didn't say much to one another. I was still trying to wake up, and she was busy greeting the dog. She snuggled closer and held my hand. Before long we were tickling hands and giggling.

Usually I don't get up when the girls go to school. They need that quiet time with Mom since they don't see her every day except for those few minutes. However, I felt the sunshine warm our house this morning. I found the perfect way to start the day.

I kissed the sunshine this morning and have been smiling since.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Light the Lamp

Winter roars in when least expected. And, for a time, people step back into the past.

When I was a child and the power went off in that house back the lane, we all huddled in the basement by the fireplace. We cooked our food over said fireplace and slept in our beds beneath piles of quilts and comforters. Dad went to the barns and broke up the frozen water in the watering trough so the animals could drink. Extra bedding was given to the sheep and barn doors and windows closed tight against the winter wind. No towns were nearby for food, so the canned goods in the fruit room fed us. It was a time in the past that my children and grandchildren don't remember. Yet it is a time brought to life when winter comes quickly to call.

"I want it to snow here," Gabby said.

"Did he say we were getting snow?" asked Sydney her eyes bright with anticipation.

The temps on the left side of these United States is dropping slowly. The weather man was talking about the snow falling on Mt. Hood when Sydney caught his words. The children here are eager for snowfall. Snowfall that we don't get every winter.

We are fortunate to have a gas fireplace to keep us warm, and, if need be, we can go to my son's just a couple miles away to keep warm by his wood burning fireplace. He is within walking distance from the grocery while our pantry is well-described by my daughter:

"All we have are beans!!!!"

Winter takes us to a vulnerability that for some is all new. My roots taught me to survive a powerless time. It taught me to be entertained with family instead of computers and televisions. It taught my children that we could have fun by the fireplace and creative food choices.

We wait on the left side for snowfall. Our hearts go out to those who have been without power for such a long time. For me? I need to get oil for my oil lamps.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Haunting....EEEEEEEEK!

Okay, there are no 'eekings' here. We have a ghost the girls have named Gloria. We don't see her, but we hear her. We discovered her when the floorboards in my bedroom creaked as steps crossed my room. Step, by step, by step Gloria made herself known. Since then, Gloria has opened doors and slammed them shut. She surprises us once in awhile with some new noise. The dog crate opens and things fall in odd places.

"Grammy, Gloria knocked a vase off the dresser!" Gabby yelled. I followed her up the stairway to her room. When we entered, she gasped, "Grammy, the vase was on its side when I came to get you." Now the vase was standing upright.

A friend knows the people who lived here before us. They indeed verified that a ghost lives here. They actually saw the old woman walk down the hallway and smelled food cooking. I'm hoping she likes to cook and takes over the kitchen duties.

We had a ghost in our home many years ago. He would shake my bed and that of my daughter even as we sat there awake. The bed would shake. Stop. Then shake once more. My son had seen the man standing in his bedroom doorway.

Once a friend came to house-sit for us.....she slept in James' room.

"Do you know you have a ghost?" she asked upon our return. She was unaware of our silent resident yet went on to describe him exactly as my son had previously. Oh, yes, we had a ghost.

When my grandmother passed, the neighbor swore she saw doves flying from my grandparent's chimney. Spirits. There are many who might be unbelieving, but I for one have no doubts.

One night in our house where the man ghost resided I was trying to fall asleep. Night after night undoubtedly one of my two children would tap me on the back. "Can I have a drink?" "Would you tuck me in again?" etc.

On this night, I felt the tap on my back. "Go back to bed," I warned.

Again....the tap.

"I said, go back....." and as I turned over, I saw that no one was there. I got up and checked on both children who both in deep sleep.

My granddaughters do fairly well with Gloria. Having a ghost has given me a chance to talk to my children and grandchildren about fear and about accepting that there are some things we just can't explain. We talk about death and afterlife. We talk about the lives we imagine for our visitors turned ghostly. We accept that we have no answers....but we do have a ghost.

If Gloria is looking over my shoulder, I hope she understands that we can live peacefully with her and wish for her final peace.

As for me, I ain't 'fraida no ghosts!


This post will also be on Neff Road today. Happy Halloween!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Holiday Overload

Deck the Halls with ghouls and witches. Falalalala lalalala. Evidently Halloween was tossed aside this week because Christmas commercials have taken over the TV. However, the kids will not trick or treat until Tuesday. I'm confused with this mixture of the two. Where in the world is Thanksgiving in all of this? I'm on holiday overload. HELP!

In our home, we have Gabby's birthday streamers, Stacey's Christmas knitting and Halloween decorations. There isn't a bare spot in the living room. Holiday confusion could overwhelm a small child. For us, we can keep the separation between decorations. I'm almost dreading the time we get the Christmas decorations out. I'm not sure the rest will be gone yet. I think I'm frightened that the room will become a Party Place.

So what of our attitudes towards these dates that have residence on calendars when they come out the beginning of each year? As kids we toss off the mask, dive into the turkey and make a list for the jolly man. For me, I see a long list of dollar signs all running into one another. There is sparkle in the eyes of children and panic in the hearts of parents who cannot afford the holidays.

We say that it isn't about the gifts, but we know what we wish for our children. Children live in cars and on the streets with their families. They sit in hospital beds wanting to go home. They are hungry and afraid. Yet our children can't comprehend what those children suffer. What a wonderful time to show children how important it is to remember other and to weaken that dollar sign holiday.

When I was a child, we trick or treated for UNICEF. When my kids were teens, we served dinner to families in the children's cancer wing of the hospital. As children, we caroled at the nursing homes. Our church started the Heifer Project. We were surrounded by opportunities to give.

I'm trying not to be bogged down with this influx of holidays. I'm trying not to think of what we cannot provide and to think of the difference we can make. Maybe you would like some ideas, too.

Sponsor a calf for a family:   http://www.heifer.org/getinvolved/individuals-and-families
Trick or Treat for UNICEF:   http://youth.unicefusa.org/trickortreat/
As a family, serve Thanksgiving dinner at a food shelter.
Find your child a pen pal in another country through Pen Pal World, church mission program or the school might even have a sister school.

It's time to take charge of the holiday instead of charging to make it happen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

She is 10

A whirlwind of wonder came into our lives ten years ago. We had no idea what we were in for when we looked at that little bundle of new life. My first thought when I held her for the first time was of my mother. I looked at her and said "little Ruth.".

Over these ten years, she has proved that statement true. She has that inner energy that Mom possessed. Her face knows more about smiling than frowning. Everyone is her friend. She is fearless and strong. I often think of how my mother would have laughed at her antics. Yes, she is little Ruth.

Gabby has yet to understand her potential. Her compassion and depth of caring are as strong as perchant for fun. She could be a diplomat, a doctor, a teacher, a builder of hope. Gabby would talk the same to her classmate as she would the President. She is full of hope and fails to understand cruelty of words and actions. She is an dog whisperer. Her spirit reaches out to all who come within her reach.

Gabby is blind to the color of man and prejudice. She wears her heart on her sleeve, because she feels so deeply and loves so strongly. Kindness is another name for her.

Today I celebrate my beautiful granddaughter who makes me laugh and who sometimes warms my heart to tears. My granddaughter is another year older and our lives another year richer.

Today she is 10.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Focus

My apologies for not writing every day. Weekends are always down time. Now I'm extending some of that time due to the work I am doing on the book Neff Road. I will try to write at least three times a week. I appreciate the time you take to visit my blog and love your comments. Hopefully, the book will be in final editing before the end of the year.

Thank you for visiting a grandparent on A Grandparent's Voice. I look forward to more conversations with you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Scrooge

X   Plastic table cloth
X   Pumpkins
X   Carving tools
X   Candles
X   Cookie Sheet

Let the carving begin!

Today two pumpkins sit on the stoop. Been a lot of years of pumpkins sitting out front of the house. Each generation has their own memories. My pumpkin carving days began with my children.

I have to admit that I really don't like to carve pumpkins. I detest putting my hand into the gooey mess. However, carving has improved with time. Tools are designed for easier carving. Patterns are available, so designs can be more intricately created by even a child.

We've roasted pumpkin seeds for years. Anticipation is always great when we take them out of the oven. A day or so later, they sit unnoticed. I guess I sound a bit of a Halloween Scrooge.

"Don't you love that smell," Gabby yelled to me.

"What smell?" I asked.

"Pumpkin, Grammy!"

"Sure," I answer as I stood at the sink washing pumpkin seeds separating pulp from seed. The Scrooge of the Orange Globe has retired for another  year. Two more pumpkins have met their fate.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Northwest Perfection

Hoda and Kathy Lee in Seattle this morning: Seattle ranked 6th in worse dressed city in America. So on the show they go around the city picking out people telling them how lousy they dress.

Does this stuff really sell with the average American? I came from a generation where you dressed the same as everyone else minus your own taste in comfort and style. Yes, I have been the career woman who spent lots of money on clothing and was never caught off guard in case someone decided to drop in. I wore make up every day thinking that I needed to look my best 'every day' for my husband. I didn't know who I was for myself.

I love the Northwest. One thing that strikes most people who move here is the freedom to be who you are dressing comfortably and enjoying a beautiful life surrounded by nature and other people who are content to be just who they are. I love that the is no pretense and that everyone accepts everyone else.

Obviously, when it is suggested that someone needs a makeover, it suggests that they could be better. A young woman this morning, typical of most of us out here, had on a fleece vest, t-shirt, jeans and old comfy shoes. After the makeover, she had on a cute little outfit and new hairstyle.

"Do you get more attention now?" the girl was asked. And, yes, she did. My thoughts: If I get attention, I want it to be for who I am, not what I do to make myself different.

How many of the people getting makeovers can afford to keep up with the new look? Hair color costs a good bit of money over time. Clothes are not cheap. A wardrobe is for those who can afford it. Why do I need to look different? Why am I not great just the way I am? What kind of message do we send to young women who watch these shows?

I'm tired of those who have money telling those of us who don't have as much that we need to improve. Quite frankly, I don't want to spend an hour in the bathroom getting 'pretty'. I don't want to spend money I don't have on clothing I will only wear once in awhile. I don't want to be something I really am not. I want to be accepted just the way I am.

I'm tired of makeovers. I'm tired of the average person being criticized on national TV. I'm not sure why someone feels they have the right to pick apart someone else. We live in the Northwest. We live a casual life. Many of our executives wear casual clothing to work. Some offices allow people to bring their dogs to work. We hike around and bike around and comfy shoes are not frowned upon. The main staple in every wardrobe is jeans. We wear vests over shirts because our weather is fairly mild. Nature is preserved here. Homes are built considering the same. We are as natural as our NW environment, and we like it. Maybe those who think we can be better should try our lifestyle.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mother and Son Reunion

The fall day was warm in Wisconsin. My husband was mowing the lawn. My daughter, age two, was next door with a neighbor. Her husband was following me around the house timing contractions. It was the day my son would be born.

After his birth my son was quickly taken to the warmer. His parents were only given a look at their new family member. We went back to the room and waited and waited and waited. The evening meal came, and I waited some more. Each time the nurse came into the room I asked for my baby I'd yet to touch. I was told he was fine and sleeping. Maybe I would get him later. I stayed awake all night waiting to meet my son. He wasn't brought to me until morning.

Times have changed. Dad's were just beginning to be allowed into the delivery room. Birth without meds was new. Heck, paper diapers were new!

I don't know what it was that held up this first visit with my son. My first born came to me not long after her birth. I'm thinking perhaps the nurses all fell in love with this baby and didn't want to part with him.

Time has gone quickly....those thirty-seven years. We mothers never forget those moments when our children are born. When they are first placed in our arms. We check out every bit of this child who had shared our bodies those nine months. I remember looking at him thinking, "So this is you." We find new parts of ourselves in the new life. A new love takes hold and doesn't let go.

In a hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin, a mother and son reunion began. Happy Birthday, James.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On a Park Bench

"Grammy."

"Yes."

"Grammy, why do friends change?"

" I don't know, Honey. Some just do."

"Is it me?"

"No. It's not you. Kids change friends quite a lot. So do adults."

"Have your friends changed."

"Yes. Sometimes they change. Sometimes we change. Some times things change. It's all normal."

"I don't like it."

"Me neither."

"Grammy."

"Yeah."

"I love you."

The sunshine is warm as a grandma and granddaughter sit on the park bench. I smile,  "I love you, too."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back Against the Wall

Hold your chin up
Stand up straight and tall
Feet together, Girl
Back against the wall.

Looking at the sidewalk
Same as day before
Hoping for a meal
They ask for little more.

Bringing home a check
Never is enough
Providing for a family
Sure is gettin' tough.

Every day a battle
No employment call
Look into the mirror
Stand up straight and tall.

Applications sent
Rejection comes the same
So many of us out there
Who hate this sorry game.

Hold your chin up high
Show no fear at all
Don't let anyone know
That your back's against the wall.

For all of us seniors, non-seniors and families who understand, my heart goes out to you. I share your fears. I pray for an answer. I pray for a call. I pray that soon we will not have our backs against the wall.

Monday, October 17, 2011

House of Leaves

The color of fall. Slowly it creeps into Oregon. The leaves still cling to the trees and refuse to change color.

In Wisconsin, the trees changed quickly as did the weather. Leaves fell and snow was not too far behind. Bundled in warm coats, my children played in the leaves tossing them to the air just as I had as a child. Tossing them to the air without a care in the world.

In Ohio, Dad raked leaves into little rows making a leave house for me to play in until he was finished raking. A wise man knew who his daughter would get in his way if he didn't create a distraction. I played in the rooms jumping over the leaf walls. Dad's listened to my chatter and carried on a constant conversation with me.

What is it about leaves that make us want to walk, to jump into them? Is it the smell of fall? Is it the crunch they make when we moosh them beneath our feet? Is the the crispness in the air that says a new season is coming? Whatever it is, I love it.

I wonder if our kids and grandkids know that we still have that child residing inside of us who remembers crunching crisp leaves in our hands and rolling in the leaves. We still have that urge to scatter leaves carefully raked. We still have the same feelings we had a a child and always will. The oneness that is us when we are born does not go away. We still dream of adventure and retain the silliness that makes us good playmates for our grandkids.

I want to play in the leaves tossing them into the air. I want to feel the crisp clean air nip at my cheeks. I want once more to play in a house of leaves.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gentle Gesture

My granddaughters got their flu shots today. I sat in the waiting room waiting until the ordeal was over. Time spent in waiting rooms is fascinating. I've never been too bothered by it. This adventure in observation, in humanity, causes the book in front of me to sit there unread.

Two men about my age sat across from me. The wife of one of the men came out from the office and walked over to them. Her husband reached over putting his hand on his old friends shoulder letting it rest there. "I found an old banker," he informed her. An old friend. It was obvious from this gentle gesture.

I remember my dad reaching out patting a male friend on the back. Men who were not demonstrative to other men, those men of an older generation, even old farmers had their ways of showing affection, companionship. I sat smiling at these men who had history together.

Time in a waiting room makes for good writing along with a smile or two.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spirits and Spiders

Three boxes find their way into the living room. Well, they didn't really find their way. They were buried treasure hidden under storage containers in the garage. I carried them in one by one with Gabby hot on my heals. The first box contained costumes. Each girl tried on every costume whether it fit or not. Monsters, poodle skirt, Statue of Liberty, bumble bee, kitty all came out of the same box....a history box. Baby costumes were saved. Small and sweet. The poodle skirt had become a mini skirt on Sydney.

The next two boxes were full of decorations from my house and from Stacey's. Pumpkins came to life as candles were lit. Spiders sat on window sills and spider webs covered the front porch.

The girls fought over who would wear what out of the costume box. Stacey and I were to the point that we wanted to pack it all up and take it back to the garage. Then the girls quietened and disappeared with the orange and black streamers. Soon the house was transformed into a Halloween haunted house. "Do not enter" signs were posted on the front door. Spiders hung over the upstairs railing. Streamers hang over each bedroom doorway.

The house is cluttered and a bit of chaotic. I run into streams and spiders every time I pass through the hallway. Spiders can come to live here for awhile since they will just blend into the collection already occupying the fake webs hanging from corner to corner. The October adventure has begun and 'spirits' are high.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Confessions: Good for the Heart. Good for a Start.

Quite innocently it began. "I have a confession......". I'm not even sure who started it, but it gained interest, giggles and opened new dialogue.

Stacey and Sydney were busy knitting. Gabby was sitting on the floor playing with Puddles. A silly, simple confession was made, "Once I dropped a cookie and put it back." Sydney joined in with her small confession. I popped in with a confession of when I was little and broke something then hid it. One by one the game progressed. Mommy finally joined in. It was a cleansing game.

"I feel better," said Syd. I agreed. "Can we play some more?"

By then we had pretty much run out of minor infractions and self revelations. But something had happened in this innocent dialogue. We had learned to trust one another with our secrets. We had learned that we all supported one another no matter what cookie was dropped or what toy was broken. A bond was formed and children learned that adults have their faults, too.

I noticed that one of Sydney's friends on Facebook was posting her confessions. I wondered if Sydney had passed on the game. In removing the bits and pieces of guilt, we open ourselves up to allowing more good to seep in.

I have a confession to make. There are days that I don't feel like writing. Sometimes I just take time for myself without guilt. So please don't feel guilty if you take a vacation from my blog. I understand.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Things that go Bump

She hunkered down closer to me. "Do you want us to turn it off," I asked.

"No. I'm not afraid," she answered as the monster on the screen opened his slobbery mouth once more.

What is it about kids that they love scary things.....or so they say. They love haunted houses. They aren't above hiding behind a door and scaring the bejeebers out of me. Yet, when it comes to bedtime, Sydney hates being upstairs alone.

I can relate. I had many a fearful night sleeping alone in the upstairs of our old, creaky house. The dark was full of farm sounds, a barn owl, barking dogs, an occasional squeal from a nocturnal predator attack. Thunder shook the windows and rain pounded on the old tin roof. Floor boards creaked as night settled in. In the winter, the old radiator pipes knocked and burped. A little girl's imagination went wild.

Occasionally, I go upstairs to read when the girls go to bed. I don't want bedtime to be fearful. Still, I need to allow them to work through their fears alone. I want them to be strong. Isn't it that way with all of life. We want to spare our children pain but know that struggle and survival will only make them stronger.

There isn't much I'm afraid of any more. We've had a ghost, so they hold no fear for me. I love to sleep in a pitch black room. Creaks and groans are usually my own. Even noises in the trees behind our home fail to terrorize me.

Underbrush crunched as something passed through the trees. "Mom, quick close the door!" my daughter whispered.

I went to the door. As I closed it, I yelled to Stacey, "I have a gun!"

Stacey snapped back, "You don't have a gun!" Well, so much for scaring the noisy visitor in the backyard.

As to the scary movies? I guess there will be more snuggling during the month of Halloween. Things that go bump in the night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It All Changes

She dropped down on the stair, turned her head away from me and cried. "It's all changing." I remembered.

My sisters one by one left home they went off to college. I was eleven when my next oldest sister left. They married and were gone one step further away from home. One by one the differences between me and my sisters became more evident. It was a lonely time for this girl on the farm. I longed to have my sisters.

Gabby full of energy was asked one more time to keep the noise level down as she and the dog ran around the sofa, through the kitchen and down the hall. Her older sister was doing homework. Sydney's homework load had almost doubled from a year ago. After the last request, Gabby disappeared upstairs to play.

It's hard to watch our siblings move on. There is a gap in our lives, a hole that can't be filled. The older child gives up playing with toys for makeup and girl friends. The older child has less and less in common with the younger child. I remember my children going through the same thing only in a bit different way. Boy versus girl is different. Still the change comes and there is a time of confusion when the younger child is no longer included in older kid events.

"She doesn't play with me anymore, Grammy," Gabby cried. "Some day she will go to college and leave me."

Choked with tears, I tried to give her comfort. All of the missing I have for my sisters sat heavily on my heart.

"Well, that's a long way off, Honey," I said. "What do say we do lots of fun things now?"

She looked at me and nodded. Growing up is hard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kid Blanket

Cooler weather brings on warm blankets and throws. Once more we are reacquainted with sweaters and jackets. Best of all, kid blankets are back again.

The homework was finished. I sat down on the sofa next to Sydney. Before I knew it her feet were on my lap. After a bit, the feet are replaced by her head. Grammy's foot rubs and face tickles seem to be back in season. Soon I hear Gabby bopping down the stairs.

"Grammy, can you sit in the middle?" she asks.

As soon as I am situated, her sweet head is on my lap. Sydney, who is now too tall to lie down on one cushion, leans against me. Her head on my shoulder. The dog runs around looking for a space as well.

The kid blanket goes away during the warm months. Too hot to cuddle. Too much to do inside the house and out. The kid blanket goes into storage. It's not that I didn't notice the change during the summer. I missed having the girls cuddle up snuggling in for Grammy time and warmth.

"I love you, Honey," I said to my almost teenage granddaughter.

"I love you, too.

Some day the kid blankets will be in storage only revealed in an occasional hug or kiss. Mom teasingly wanted my then college son to sit on her lap. I now appreciate what my mother must have felt in that one loving act of her grandson. For one last time, she held him. The kid blanket had peaked out once more.

Kid blankets. They are the best.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In the Audience

Children grow older, and we sit in the audience. Quietly, we watch. Silently we sit on the sidelines as our children perform this thing called life.

Last night I sat in the audience watching my son's show in the second step moving it on to a major production. The readers, the actors, played out the script my son has written. I sat nervously watching in a crowd of other audience members. I was struck with watching a scene unfold on stage as I was watching a scene unfold in my son's life. I am an audience member.

The active part of our involvement in our children's lives changes constantly most notably when they become adults. We become an audience member. I sat in that audience revisited by butterflies that have sat with me through auditions, school programs, plays and almost every phase of this life with children. A first speech, a first recital, a first dance, a first date, graduation, marriage, all of it. We try to let go and seem to do a pretty good job most of the time, but those darn butterflies never completely rest.

The story played out on the stage and backstage in the life of my son. I sat in the audience trying to be objective. I sat listening for comments, responses. I told the butterflies that it was no longer my duty...they just laughed at me.

We sit in the audience as our children move forward in their lives contributing here and there. Silently, we watch their lives unfold, and we pray.

Friday, September 30, 2011

You Can Do It!

Ready! Get set! Go! Gabby ran her fifth fun run. Her Grandma was volunteering for her seventh.

Each year the grades lines up beneath the flags. The volunteers stand at the line and mark each round when a child crosses. I'm pretty good at this after seven years. A lot of parents have come and gone as well as the students who go on to middle school.

"This is my first year to volunteer," said the woman next to me. She was tentative with her marker. You can tell a season veteran by the swiftness with which she marks the tags on the backs of the children who stop at her station.

The Macarena is playing. I sway with the music and yell at the kids, "Come on 4th Graders!!!!!" Next comes the Chicken Dance. I flap with the kids as they flap past the flags. 10.....11....12.... The laps were marked off and kids began to drag.

"Let's go 4th graders!" I yelled. "You can do it!"

Hm. None of the other five parents were yelling for the kids. No one else was cheering them on. And, I guess no one else wanted to do the chicken dance. My daughter, two people away from me, was probably disclaiming me.

When I yelled, the children picked up speed and smiled. I noticed more and more that the same kids came to me to be marked. I had hoped my enthusiasm would reach the other parents, but it didn't. I could have clammed up, I guess, but why start after seven years!?

Sometimes we pull back afraid to be different, to stand out from the crowd. For many parents, this just isn't their thing. For this grandma, it is a way to be involved.

"Grammy, it's time to dance like we did last year!" Gabby said at the end of the race. I thought maybe we should pass this year.

I will never be the Grandma who sits on the sidelines. Next year I will cheer on the 5th graders and mark up my last year of the Fun Run.

"I had a wonderful time," said the new volunteer. Maybe I can win volunteer cheerleaders over one at time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Needle and A Girl

The splinter was small. I couldn't even see it with my reading glasses. Yet firmly embedded in the end of my finger, it could not be ignored.

"I'll get it out for you, Grammy," Gabby offered. Without hesitation, I declined. A nurse, age nine, didn't seem like a solution to my problem.

I tried to ignore the irritating jab whenever the tip of my finger met with resistance. I pinched. I squeezed. I pulled. Nothing would budge the sliver.

"I got a splinter out for Mommy," Gabby casually mentioned. I gave her a 'good for you' then picked up the magnifying glass and needle. This was coming out if I had to remove the entire end of my finger!

After no success, I returned to the sofa sucking on the now red finger. Maybe I could just live with it. Eventually it would work its way out. Good in theory, but..... I began weighing my options. It seemed I had only one left.

Gabby and I made our way to the bathroom. She stood on the stool next to me with needle in hand. After a quick movement, the sliver was out. I had misjudged my granddaughter thinking that she was too young to handle the task. I was a little nervous about turning the needle over to her. Maybe there was a bit of apprehension as to how I would handle the pain inflicted by my granddaughter.

I learned a lesson, and I learned that my granddaughter is gentle and caring. Her eyesight is definitely 20/20. Perhaps I should have remembered that from the start. Perhaps I should have trusted first.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. Yep, I have it. It's not contagious. The symptoms are feelings of regret, yearning, disappointment and a real big 'darn it'.

"I wish I had been more adventuresome," my daughter said while watching a movie of a young woman traveling the world. Yep, she has the signs. This disease might actually be contagious.

My friend posted pictures of her trip to Indonesia. Exotic, exciting, pictures of a world I've never seen. Last summer she went kayaking and mountain climbing. She has posted pictures of her standing by a glacier and sitting by a native hut. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.

I can blame it on the fact that we didn't live in an atmosphere that promoted adventure. Women weren't really given those dreams when I was young. We were just starting to think that we might have more of a career than secretary and housewife. It was the 60's and time of change. I would never have gone out on my own. I didn't know how to do more than I was already doing. We didn't have money for adventures. We didn't have exposure to those doors that would encourage us to step into the world beyond. We could do service for our church. We could be missionaries. Only Lowell Thomas and National Geographic gave us that view of a world we couldn't see.

Perhaps I didn't expose my children to that world either. We didn't have money to travel, take trips around the world. Our vacations revolved around vacations back to Ohio and the farm. I was as ignorant to the opportunities for my children as I had been for myself. One first step beyond occurred when my son went to Chicago, away from home. Suddenly his world opened up in new ways.

I want more for my granddaughters. When we talk about what they can be someday, we talk about exciting careers, those that can make a difference in the world, those that fit their interests and natural talents. We encourage them to find themselves. We allow them to see a world beyond.

I think this might be the cure for Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda. Everyone has regrets, but maybe we can minimize the effects. Each time I send out something to be published, I erase one of those Couldas. Each time I do something on my own I eliminate a Woulda. And for all it is worth, I will not let a Shoulda add to my life. 

The world can only be better when we all find our natural path. I'm still working on mine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

There are Days

Ever have days when you were just tired. No energy. No umph, as my mother would say. Life is sometimes overwhelming and just needs a day to voice itself. Today is my day.

I strongly dislike getting older. I can embrace it and go with the flow, but I don't like it. I'm tired. I'm tired of losing loved ones. I'm tired of living on a shoestring. I'm tired of having no control over my life. My life is controlling me. I guess this all has come about with Gabby's birthday, my son's birthday and Christmas looming in the not so far distance.

I know I'm not alone in these feelings. Who can get older and not have moments of just wanting it all back and wanting things to be easier. I know I'm not alone. Sometimes the hole seems pretty deep. I don't want to sound depressed or to bring anyone down, but I do want to let you know that there are days when we all struggle to keep our chins up. There are times when the mountain of obstacles seems impossible. We seemed locked in a situation with no way out.

So what do we do? How do we break this feeling of despair? Well, take a walk. Call a friend. Write whatever pops into your mind. You don't need to be a writer to empty the pain. Call someone you haven't talked to for a very long time. Find a support group. If you are really floundering, please get counseling. We all have times when we hit bad times in our lives. It doesn't mean that those times rule us. There is no shame in asking for help. There is no shame in going to the food bank when food is scarce. There is no shame in going to family services asking for assistance. There is no shame in going to your minister and baring your soul. There is no shame.

Today I write. I took steps over the weekend to put my writing out there in order to bring more money into our household. I put a puzzle together and was brainless for several hours. Today I might even take a nap. I think it might start with putting on clean clothes, adding a little make up to my tired face and dog sitting for one of my favorite family members, one who gives me comfort. I don't need to worry about anything more than the now. It is all I can control.

Today I write that you might find hope and know you are not alone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekends

A weekend! I find that no matter what age I have been, "weekend" is always something to look forward to. I'm not working, so I don't need the weekend reprieve. I have no plans, so what's the big deal?!

For one thing, my granddaughters will be home all weekend. When they go to their dad every other week, I miss them terribly. The quiet is nice. The adult TV is nice. I actually have time to write without interruption, but, oh, how I miss the girls. Perhaps I miss them more because I know the day is just around the corner when they will be gone. There is never enough time.

Stacey will do her thing with the girls. I will putts around and be involved in some of the activity, but this is mom and daughters time. I need to give that to them without my own agenda. Yet maybe by just being here, I am involved.

Not every grandparent has the opportunity to see their grandchildren every day. But that is no excuse for lack of contact and for being involved. An email note or picture sent to a grandchild brings on the widest smile. I know. I have seen it. A call time set on the weekends between grandparent and grandchild is cherished by both. There are ways to be involved on a regular basis. Do I feel it is important? Darn right. I know that grandparents are important. I have seen my children go to school on Grandparents' Day without a grandparent. I have been the child without the grandparents. I know of other children, other mothers, who call me Grandma because theirs are not involved. We are important.

No we can't do it all. Miles, obligations, appointments, health often set us apart. Yet a card sent to a child on Grandparents' Day at school is a gift from the hands of a loving grandparent. A distant grandparent may not be able to be involved physically, but they can be creative in finding ways to connect.

The weekend is here. The house will be a bit more cluttered. The noise level will go up a few notches. Two girls will be home. I love weekends.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Holiday From Stress

This morning I woke up feeling less than perfect. Well, I have never been perfect, so I guess that I mean feeling less than imperfect. Anyway, I have a new ache. Well, it wasn't really new. I've had it before an knew what was happening. Are you confused? I am.

Stress can do a great deal to the body. We tuck it away thinking we are dealing with it, or we let it run rampant causing chaos wherever it finds a voice. I guess I am the former. I know that worrying doesn't get me anywhere and can be overwhelmingly depressing if I allow it to manifest. I know that I can't deal with anything if I am in panic mode. So I take on the new stress with the realization that life will go on whether I let it control me or not. I prefer to take life it as it comes, and not dwell on what I cannot change.

I know that I won't win the lottery. I know that a new bill will come in the mail. I know that I will get job rejections....as always. Yet, I know that I am rich in what I have, who I have in my life. I will not give it up as stress begs to settle in. Yes, my body might feel the effects. I can't make this stress go away. Yet I will not destroy what I have because of it.

I called my doc. "Here we go again," I said. She asks if I'm okay. I tell her the truth. She knows I have little control over my life right now. She listens and is on my side.

I wish I had answers to erase the stress that many of us share right now. I have none. I only know that talking to someone we trust helps. I know that keeping a positive attitude is imperative. Most of all, I pray. I know I am never alone.

Hey, stress, give me a break today!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trying Their Wings

"Grammy, I'm going to put on a show!" Gabby yelled from the yard. I sat on the swing watching. My granddaughter, age nine, began a cartwheeling across the yard. Her show also consisted of back bends, the splits and various other moves I'd not yet seen in my lifetime. She bounced. She flipped. She twisted in ways that made my bones ache. It was all as natural to her as breathing.

For the last couple of years we have talked about it. Gabby needed to be in gymnastics. This little girl who has so much energy that it oozes out of her. Fearless, graceful, agile and full of life, the mats, the bar, the floor should be hers. So I finally just took up the reins and called Oregon Gymnastics Academy. This is a big step for a family struggling financially, but we know that there is a calling that needs be answered. I made an appointment for skill evaluation.

"I'm nervous, Grammy," she said yesterday. I didn't want to tell her, but I was, too.

"Just pretend that you are performing for me in the front yard," I said. "You will have fun and do just fine."

I watched the little girl that came in the door with me. I knew she would not be the same one when we left. She held her chin high and focused on what the instructor asked of her. She didn't stop and wave at me every time she did something as she would have in the past. Instead she once in awhile looked up at me and smiled. My heart was in my throat. She had aged a few years in just a few moments.

When the evaluation was finished, her instructor informed us that Gabby had natural talent. She was everything that was needed to be a gymnast. She would not go into the beginning classes. Gabby would begin in Intermediate 1 and is expected to move to Intermediate 2 very quickly.

We grandparents, we parents need to look for the signs in our children of the gifts they possess. Perhaps we are financially strapped and cannot give them what they need. Yet, as I am finding, there is help if we look for it. There is a way if we are determined to give them the best. Gabby can potentially continue with gymnastics going on to gain college scholarships. She will gain pride in herself. She will gain confidence. She will take a step away from us into herself.

Her feet left the ground reaching for the sun. She bent over backwards as easily as sitting down. A smile lit her face as she felt her heart soar. An eagle must soar and a fish swim. A singer must sing and a dancer dance. God gave wings. Grandparents and parents can give their children the freedom to try them.

We got back into the car. "I'm very proud of you," I said.

"I know," she answered.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From There to Here

It's a short walk from here to there. Point A to Point B. Age One to Age Sixty. It's a short walk.

There are those nights when I lie in bed just wondering at the speed of light, the speed of sound and the speed of life. Well, maybe I don't stay awake over light and sound, but once in awhile the speed of life settles into my thoughts. Where did the time go?

My mother was leaving this life going to the next when she said, "It all went so fast." More and more I realize her words. I don't think I noticed until I was in my sixties that those ten-year, decade segments were just a speck of time. I have lived six of those segments that passed much too quickly.

I could get buried in the things lost, those things and people who are gone. I could get lost in the memories. But, this is the life progression. It happens while we live. So why not make the best of all that remains. Maybe we become aware of it at this age because it is important. We are important. Maybe we are aware because there are tales to be told and honor to be given. Perhaps we are aware because we have things to teach and things to learn. There is an awakening of the spirit, of the soul that finds us in the 'here' that started back 'there'.

Maybe it is these years that teach us that love comes in all ways and can be given in all ways. For me, it is a lesson in embracing the now and my family, my friends. It is the time to love the world one person at a time, starting with me.

The distance is short between then and now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

For Her Children

Sometimes we make mistakes in our lives that change the course of our future and that of our children. There are many women who have walked away from their marriages for one reason or another hoping for something better. More times than not it doesn't work that way. The lose financially because they don't expect more for themselves. They leave because they are in pain.

She knits with a flurry that even snowstorms cannot match. She does it for her children.

I remember coming out of my divorce full of hope for a better future. For awhile the future I sought was kind, then the economy changed and my hands began to fail me. My children are grown yet I am a worry to them. Now I try to find a way to take care of my kids so they don't worry.....writing for my children.

My daughter has had her struggles. She has faced the struggles of a single mom. She doesn't have a house to sell because she left hers. She doesn't have a retirement because she hasn't worked long....she only wanted to be a mom and wife. She tries hard to get ahead only to find barriers which constantly assail her. I watched this woman emerging from a safe cocoon into an unforgiving world trying to get a foothold on the future for her children.

In the waking hours when my daughter is not spending time with her beautiful daughters or working, she knits. She works hard trying to build up stock to sell at bazaars. Some of her work sells to friends as quickly as she can knit it. She is gifted. With each piece she makes, she adds a bit more to the coffers for her daughter. With each piece of her heart that she pours into each piece, she heals herself.

I am proud of this daughter of mine. She has learned much from this struggle just as did I. She has found new parts of herself. She is one of the bravest women I know. It is amazing what we mothers do for our children. We find strength to protect them and to provide for them. We find peace in knowing we give them the best parts of us. We learn about ourselves in this entire process giving our children a better mother.

She sits and knits. Her fingers twist and turn and create. She does it for her children.

Friday, September 16, 2011

For Tink

I am not writing today. I lost a dear cousin and cannot find my voice for the blog. I have written about him today at www.neffroad.com.

Thank you for your continued support of my blog. You give me a place to talk to friends. You give me a community who travel a same road. Thank you for coming to visit.

I hope you will check out www.grandparents.about.com/.

Thanks to Susan Adcox for recognizing my blog. Check out "Meet Grandparents".  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Looking for the Positive

I usually tuck the positive beneath my pillow at night knowing that I will look for it in the morning when I am still groggy and loving the warm nest I've slept in during the sleeping hours. I pull it on and head into the day.

This morning I took out the positive attitude. Everything seemed okay until I was up about an hour then I started feeling lousy. The attitude still sat lively, but the body was feeling less than perfect. Sometimes a positive attitude isn't enough.

This getting older seems difficult some days. I keep looking for that youthful, 50ish, energy to reappear, but it often goes into hiding. And, it returns with a bit of it missing. My love of late hours find my late hours appearing earlier. At the end of the day, my hands hurt beyond use and I am sad. I am discouraged.

I'm not complaining.....well, maybe a little. I want to have that energy back to go with the wisdom I've discovered as I've aged. I want hands that can type and not ache. I want energy to keep up with my grandchildren. But it isn't always there, is it?

I'm feeling a little under the weather. It won't slow me down. I'll keep up the pace, keep up the writing until the hands refuse to continue. I will keep the positive attitude I took from beneath my pillow this morning and cherish it, use it. Some days just are more difficult than other, but I celebrate what I have and what I can do with what I have. I celebrate that a smile is much easier than a frown. I embrace each day being thankful for what I have in my life.

Perhaps today is a lounging day. A day to slow down and pamper myself. We all have those days. Today is mine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joined at the Hip

We were best friend. "Joined at the hip," our parents would say. We knew one another as well as two friends could having grown up from babyhood to grannyhood. Joined at the hip.

This morning I watched a piece on conjoined twins who had been separated. Two babies joined in the womb when two cells failed to completely separate. Babies joined in a way that the rest of us cannot possibly understand.

Coincidentally, last night I finished the book Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. An absolutely wonderful book that I'm sure I will read again. A story of twins. Mr. Verghese captured not just the story of the twins but a story of relationships, those that change over time. Yes, I cried....no, I sobbed. I felt that I knew these two brothers by the time the book had ended. They had come to visit me and will stay.

A silent voice holds us all together. I think we fail to listen to it because we don't know it is there, or, perhaps we have too much noise in our lives. I seem to have gotten away from the daily surprises that life can bring. I forget to be amazed at life. I forget to see the miracles, the wonders around me. We are all joined at the hip passing through this lifetime. Of course, we aren't like the twins. But we are living together. Perhaps we go through life allowing our expectations to rule it.

I love to be surprised. I love it when I find a connection with a complete stranger. A connection that might only last for a few moment, stays in our hearts. I made a long journey with twin doctors. Their story took me in and kept me there. Two little boys who were joined at the hip added to me again this morning. Through residing on this globe, in our daily lives, in our hopes and our dreams, in our tragedy and pain, we are separate yet joined at the hip.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Time

"It was another time," the newscaster said. The words resonated. Oh, yes, it was another time. A difficult time. A time my children, younger generations cannot understand. The tapes of Jackie Kennedy have been released. She recounts her life in the White House, her life as the President's wife. It was the 60's. "She was told her views by her husband."

She was a wife of the times....my time. Men divided themselves from the women going off talking about whatever men talked about while women sat separated from topics that just might interest them. We didn't know it, but we were held back by the times. We didn't know it, but we had the power to change the world. Wait....there were some who knew that it was time for change and did it.

Perhaps I always knew that I wanted more for my mother. She was an intelligent woman who never had the chance to show what she could do. She fell into the path of her mother and stayed there until my father passed. I tried to fall into that path but internally fought it all the way. Work places back in the 60's did not consider wives important. We were not invited to gatherings. We were not included in travel. We were the ones who provided food for the cocktail parties then sat with the women while the men controlled our lives. It was the way of it.

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I been raised in this time when women have a voice, when they can fly on their own wings. I thrill that my granddaughters will have the wings we give them. I love that they will know their worth. Women fought for their rights for generations. Our generation stepped up the fight. The apron was burned along with the bras.

My children don't see it, but I do every time there is a group of people. The men and women no longer separate. They wouldn't think of it. Men visit with women. Women visit with men. The separation of the sexes is becoming a thing of the past here in these United States. We are no better, and, we are no worse than our counterparts, the men. The power both sexes possess is mighty when combined.

I don't always know what I think about a particular subject, but I love hearing all views. No one can tell me what I believe, my views. Yet my view can be expanded and just perhaps improved by the freedom to be included...included with men and women and children.

It was another time.