Thursday, June 30, 2011

Talk a Little

Conversation is unappreciated.

I think that those long hours of visiting when I was a child were important in creating this writer. Listening to adult conversations unexposed to television and other electronic draws, has given me an appreciation of this gift that I was unknowlingly given.

Last night we had a dessert for a friend celebrating a birthday. Her husband and daughter, the age of my granddaughter, came along for cake. We talked about a variety of things, things other than the children. Heather sat patiently listening. She didn't say she was bored or ask when they were leaving. The simple dessert ran to an 11pm finale.

This morning Sydney asked about the gathering since the girls were at their Dads. I told her that Heather was here, that we just sat and talked.

"You would have been bored," I said.

"No I wouldn't," she replied. "Lucky, Heather."

Maybe we underestimate the children. Maybe we feel that when we visit, we need things to entertain the kids who are forced to listen. Maybe we are taking away the lessons that conversation teach. I know that I would not be who I am but for those hours of sitting with Aunt Alma and my other relatives. Visiting with friends who added such a richness to my life. I would have missed conversations about the neighborhood and farming. When a conversation turned to weddings, funerals, illness, I learned to care.

Now I know how to have a conversation with just about anyone. I love the learning that still comes with different opinions and interesting topics. I love the building of community that silently builds through these conversations. Friendships become stronger and many are added just with time spent talking.

"I love those times," Sydney explained.

I love that she does.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Journey to Neverland

Perhaps the journey to Neverland starts here. Here in this place where I currently reside. In this shell that surrounds a beating heart and soul that continues to sing. Perhaps, just perhaps, I will finally find Neverland.

Sometimes I write, just write. Waking up every morning knowing that I have two blogs to write, writing five days a week all year long, often finds me a little empty of head. Writing about my home on Neff Road comes up blank. I wonder why I can't find something to write about considering all of the years I lived there. I should have at least eighteen years of stories. Yet often the page is empty. I've been a grandparent for twelve years. A parent for almost forty years. Yet, again, I find the page empty. So I do what writers do. I just write what pops into my head. Perhaps, just perhaps, my brain has something to say.

Maybe I'm a little Peter Pannish. I've always was sure I could fly. I tried jumping off of bales of straw. No success. I managed to swing across a barn on a rope. Could never do it without the rope. Flying hasn't quite yet clicked in, I guess. I think at the end of my life I will fly just fine.

My mind seems to jump at a moment's notice to silliness. I love to play and laugh and maybe, just maybe, fight pirates. I'm not opposed to jumping on beds and singing. I've chased a few shadows most of my life hoping to capture my own. Lessons learned.

Talk shows tell us about it. People write about it. And all of us experience it. We grow older. This age that I have finally captured has brought me to the edge of Neverland. Stress is coped with in new ways. Big issues seem to have shrunk over time. What was once important is now forgotten. Today is ever so important for it is a new day in Neverland.

Today my brain is writing. My hands are following the thoughts. Perhaps the reader will understand. I think I'll read this and see if I do.

The journey to Neverland has never been sweeter. I think perhaps today I will stand in the middle of the bed and crow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not All That Important

Relax, Pam. Relax. Everything will be fine. Step away.

Okay, it's not easy to just push everything aside as say, "I'm going on vacation for a month." No, it's not easy.

Next Monday I will hop on a plane and head back to Indiana and Ohio. I'm excited to see old friends and family. In all honesty, I look forward to stepping away from stress. Being a live-in grandma adds responsibility to my life, responsibility I need to give up. Yet, I feel like I'm deserting my grandchildren. Who will be around to take them to the park? Who will make lunch for them? Who will make summer vacation exciting for them while their parents are at work? Who will listen to their silent messages?

Well, it won't be me. What I am doing is best for my family. What I am doing is best for me. I'm really not that important. I need to go home to my roots; my family will be just fine. I didn't feel this separation anxiety as much I lived alone. It is different when the family resides under one roof. The transitions that took place as my children grew up and moved away from the nest started over when I moved in with my daughter. That mom thing takes over when I have the kids every day to myself. Constantly, I tell myself that I am not responsible for them, but I am. They are a part of my daily life as I am of theirs.

I look forward to this time away to regroup and reinvent myself. This time will give me a breather and space that I have no longer in my life. It doesn't mean that I won't miss my family or love them any less. It is a time for me to be a woman of her age resting away from the 'on call' that comes with parenting.

Monday I hop on a plane. I will sit in the airports waiting, writing, stepping away into my past, my family, my friends. I hop a plane and know that all will be well in Oregon.

I am not really all that important.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Morning Madness

"Mom......"

Hm. It was dark behind my eyelids. I opened them and the sky was still a little grey from the early rise of dawn.

"Mom......"

"Huh," I managed to moan.

"Mom, the dog is loose. He ran down the street. "Will you go with me to find him?"

We do all sorts of things for our children. Sometimes we don't want to do them, but we do. So I pulled myself out of bed. In nightgowns, we hopped into the car.

As children, we don't realize how often our parents step away from what they are doing in order to do for us. We don't realize that there are many things they don't want to do, yet they do them. They clean up after us. They lose sleep over us. They change plans because of us. They give to us on a daily basis. As a parent, we don't give it a second thought. We do what needs to be done without complaint, without expectation of praise. We do what needs to be done.

We found the humor in the morning jaunt to find the dog who was checking out the house down the street. He was exhausted. We were punchy tired. We didn't go back to bed. Seemed like a good time to do more mother/daughter bonding.

There are limits to what we will do for our kids. Sometimes they just need to accept responsibility and work through their problems.

"Mom.........."

Now what?

"There's a dead mouse next to my car."

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Verb

The bed became a boat on the rough seas of Beaverton, Oregon. Children clung to their computers as the boat bounced across the waves.

Okay, there wasn't really a boat. No, three girls were piled into my bed playing computer games and watching a little kids' TV show. We were in that goofy mood that makes being a grandma so much fun.

"You can't be sixty four," Heather exclaimed. "I thought you were fifty."

What a great way to gain points. I was waiting for the next statement that informed me that I acted like I was six going on seven.

The girls think I am fun and goofy. I think, perhaps, this might be the ultimate compliment for a grandma. It is for this one. I have my own definition of a grandparent.

Grandparent: Fun, Goofy. Teacher of manners. Counselor. Guardian of life's greatest gifts and possessor of all family memories. Able to leap tall buildings to save an endangered child. Imaginative enough to turn a mattress into a boat. A person full of love, sometimes love overflowing. A noun.

"Mom, why are you all in your bed?" my daughter asked when she came home. "Are you coming down?"

"We'll be down when the boat lands."

Grandma: verb

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Isn't It Great

As a country kid, I grew up with a lot of greats around me. I didn't think much of it at the time. In fact, I really didn't think much about it until my granddaughters and I were looking through some old pictures. Yes, I was surrounded by greats.

Over the years I have had many of my friends talk about family mentioning that their mother has a sibling who lives somewhere far from Oregon. A person they barely know. My sisters live far from me. I try very hard to keep them in my granddaughters lives by talking about them, showing them old pictures. Sydney has found them on Facebook and can write to them. It is all part of sharing my past. However, until a bit ago I hadn't thought about all of the greats who were in the lives of the girl who lived back the lane on a farm.

Two of the greats in my life were my Great Uncle Jerry and my Great Aunt Alma. Both of them influenced me thus influencing my family. Uncle Jerry loved to hear me sing. He gave me encouragement. Aunt Alma taught me about nature. She actually read one of my first writing pieces and sent it for publication. These two people truly helped create the me I am today. Through me, they taught my children and now my grandchildren.

Family reunions were part of our yearly calendar. The Loxley clan met.....and it was a big clan. My great grandfather had a bizillion kids. Faces we only saw that one time a year were familiar faces. These were families that came to the farm to visit, or our Sunday drives would end up at one of their houses. I grew up with Greats.

On my trip back to Ohio, I will be with my aunt and uncle once more. My granddaughters see pictures of them, and I talk about them. I show them the rocks my aunt and uncle have given me. I tell them about my aunt being a Christmas baby, about my uncle showing me the stars. Each child has a prized Phoose Goose. The lessons Aunt Esther and Uncle Phil have taught me are given to my granddaughters....to following generations.

My opinion is that it is pretty Grand to be Great.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Moment My Heart Grew

The thumping in my chest had a new beat. A shadowy screen showed me my granddaughter for the first time.

I remember watching my own pregnant tummy move from a force beyond my control from little arms and legs beating beneath the surface. I was mesmerized.

As we watched the sonogram, my daughter and son-in-law laughed pointing at Sydney's little nose and moving limbs. I could only think, "She is beautiful." Then the thought caught hold, "I'm a grandma!"

I was catapulted back to the night Stacey knocked on the door and said that she had something to tell me. A baby was coming. I was worried about their finances, but looking at the sonogram, all fear disappeared.

The girls and I pored over the pictures this morning. More than pictures. These little sheets of paper hold the past.
"I want to be in the pictures," Gabby said. "Where am I?"

"You weren't born yet, Honey."

"I want to see me in Mommy's tummy."

"Honey, Mommy has a picture of you. I just don't have one."

I'm wondering why I don't have one. Is it that second child syndrome where things slip through the cracks.

"Grammy, where are my albums," she continues.

"Honey, they must be in a box." I knew I didn't have one for her. Darn.

It is a long journey from those pictures taken of my granddaughters yet to take a breath. A wonderful journey.....evidently requiring a little more attention to detail.

The first sight of a child not yet born. The moment my heart grew.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Freedom to Learn

One pant leg pulled up to reveal an orange sock matching the bright orange jacket. Bermuda shorts on legs so tan that they looked like teriyaki basted chicken legs. Hair hanging below the shoulders on a man and hair spiked on a woman. A rock concert? No, theatre awards in Portland.

Last spring comments were aimed and fired in hopes of swaying my granddaughter away from going to the theatre arts school:

Those kids have blue hair.
Those kids are really strange.
They don't have sports or cheerleading.

Oh, yes, the comments were made. It was a lesson in prejudice. Kids became more judgmental listening to their parents judge others. Kids in turn made snide comments. We are the teachers.

I didn't like these parents who were not shy in expressing their prejudices to their children. Religious wars, women struggling to escape the burka, gay men and women seeking a normal life without threat, children struggling to be different in a society that seems to want them all to be the same. I don't like it.

The kids at Sydney's school are a normal as they can be....and as different. All kids seek to find themselves in all of the schools. We all seek our own place. We all seek to be who we are facing those obstacles that are in opposition. I envy the kids who have the self confidence to be themselves despite opposition.

I sat in the audience last night cheering the winners who sat in the seats supporting the arts. Each and every one of them has met with resistance. Each has been told that they can't make a living in the arts. Each has pursued what voice has spoken to them their entire lives. They are free to be who they truly are in a community that applauds differences.

It would be great if we lived in a world of acceptance and cooperation. It be great if we listened and observed instead of judged. The world around us is a lesson.....it would be great if everyone had the freedom to learn.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back Space, Back Space, Back Space

Contractions. Those n't words that we use every day.

Auxiliary verbs: Could, Would, Should

Auxiliary: Giving assistance, help, support.

This morning I found myself writing a message on Facebook to a friend. I started to write the word couldn't then stopped, erased and wrote could. It dawned on me how often over my years as a mother and a grandmother, even as a friend and a sister, that I have used these n't contractions. Negative contractions. Bad, Pam. Bad, bad, bad.

As a teenager, I remember that every time my parents said no, I rebelled. Even as an adult I feel that rebellious niggle. When I used that same word, my children became defensive....they still do. No, not, negative words create negative thoughts. I knew this, still I used these contractions.

I've tried to be a positive woman. I work to find new ways of communication. I'm a believer that positive begets positive, yet I still use those negative auxiliary verbs. It's time for change. Time to rewrite the pages I have ahead of me. Time to work a little harder at becoming a positive force.

I wrote, "I'm sorry I couldn't be there." Back space, back space, back space. "I wish I could have been there."

Small steps. Tiny steps. Back space, back space, back space.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wings of Love

Wings of love. They fly from childhood to adulthood. They fly aloft sprinkling the world with smiles and laughter. The wings of love.

Sometimes I think I forget that the world is here for me to love. I sometimes feel that my vision is blurred and I get lost in a haze. For a few moments I lose the me I truly am and find myself wallowing in the absurd.

There is a voice inside of everyone that tells us to be open and loving. Most of my life I've tried to find that voice and to settling into it. My words have echoed my journey from those times when I was lost to myself and my circumstances. A child seeks answers questioning her religion, her parents. Striking out in a world so faraway from her own. Looking for answers to her lifetime of questions.

We are embassadors in everything we do. We cannot walk another's journey yet we can be companions. We may be only a passing stranger, yet a smile can make a journey better. It can change a day, a moment in time.

I don't know where I'm going with this, but I do know that when I am aware of everyone around me, I feel part of a bigger plan. I cannot change the world, prejudice, hate. But I can change myself to be a positive force in the world.

Wings of love reside in every one of us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Baby is Born

A baby is born. The child grows and is molded by the life presented, by the people given at that first moment of air in the lungs. A baby is born.

A grandmother is born when a child says, "Mom, we're going to have a baby". The process of growing up seems to be starting all over again, all new. We toss away old beliefs. We find new ways of communication. Doors open not only for the children we have in our care but in the people be become through their different ages.

We look at the past with different eyes. We embrace what we didn't know we had at the time. We often feel more like an observer looking backwards, looking forwards. Still we are changing and growing.

The hair changes colors. The body wakes up to new changes. A wrinkle creeps up here and there. Laugh lines mark the years of laughter. The twinkle in the eye knows the sadness of loss.

A baby is born. A mother is born. A grandmother is born. On June 16, 1947, I was born.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best Laid Plans

Sometimes things just don't go the way you hope. Work schedules are shuffled to be in the front row to watch your child perform. Best laid plans.

The year end talent show was coming up. Gabby decided to play a xylophone solo. She doesn't play it much but decided to learn a song. How many kids would be playing a xylophone?! How many families had one???

Dad changed his busy schedule to drop by her school this morning. He works about twenty minutes from home. Mom changed her schedule. She would have her audience for her three minutes of fame.

We got to the school and Joel (Daddy) was sitting at the secretary's computer filling out a form. He had not submitted a background check. Yes, it said on the form sent home in bold letters that all parents needed one to attend. We got the paper and he did not so he didn't see it. Joel had been to the Science Fair, Back to School Night, conferences. We walked right into the school for the 5th grade program and to the back of the school for the carnival.

I understand the security checks. I understand the school liability. Yet we go to plays at the schools, band concerts, fund raisers, etc. My family all go to support the kids. Will each family need a background check? How much money will it cost the district?

I want security for my children. It was our fault that Joel didn't know this rule since we kept the form at our house. We both thought the check was for volunteers as it has been in the past. We did not read the form completely.

What happens where the kids go on field trips? Does someone go to the bathroom with each child and follow them around?

I don't know the answer. I only know the question. I will do whatever it takes to protect my grandchildren.

Gabby saw her Daddy in the hall and ran to him.  She knew he took time from work and came to see her on stage. When she heard that he couldn't come in to see her, she melted.

We had only a hand full of parents show up. All had been at the school at one time of another. The PTO president was there and he knows Joel. Joel was no stranger at the school. The principal is his neighbor.

Some children go home with parents and are abused....some even disappear. There are demons in our world, and we can't seem to keep them out. All we can do is protect our children.

A few years ago elementary school children were running around playing behind the bleachers in a darkened area. My husband, a teacher, went back and told them that they shouldn't be playing there. The father screamed and yelled at him for telling his kids what to do. There are no answers.

Well, such has been my morning. A video is on the way so we can send it on to Joel. Teaching Gabby how to handle disappointment will be a priority. Teaching children about safety is essential.

Oh, well. I think I'll go write a blog about Neff Road.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Drammy

Text: I won a Drammy.

Sitting on the porch swing with Millie looking up at me, I read the words. I felt numb. How many years had it been? When did the journey start? When wasn't the journey in our lives?

All of a sudden I felt empty. The journey had been long and most of the time painful and difficult. The journey of our children's lives are ours as well. This was not my time, or was it?

I was never supported in anything when I was growing up, a catalyst for a mother to support her children in their achievements. I knew my son had a gift when he was a toddler. His grandpa had been a singer traveling with a quartet back in the 30's. James had the gift only it was much bigger. It wasn't until middle school that the gift came alive. The skinny kid had a powerful voice. One thing lead to another. The next seven years consisted of hours of classes, competitions and concerts.

He met with his disappointment.....so did I. He auditioned for college admissions to their music programs. His first audition consisted of a panel talking the entire time he auditioned. The next two schools begged to have him.

"We'd like to have him at Boston University and give him Tanglewood as well."

Northwestern was his choice.

The next few years were fraught with disappointment. He had the voice but not the knowledge to help him through the channels of a Big 10 school theatre program. Making your way in the theatre world is not easy. After graduation, James lived in Chicago, Seattle and New York City. He was living the life of a struggling actor. Two years ago he landed the national tour of Evita and got married. When he returned to Portland, the tide had changed.

He met with disappointment. When he cried, I cried. When he sat anxiously waiting for the results of a contest or audition, I did the same. When he was frustrated, I was praying. When he needed a pillar of strength, I was there. When he needed an ear, I was there. When he needed a ride, a place to live, a comforting voice on the other end of the line, I was there. Over the years there were times I wanted him to just give up and not be hurt any more. Times I wished that gift away. But that's not what parents do, is it? No, we swallow up that fear, we fight off our own stress and worry to support our children with strength and as much wisdom as we can conjure up at any given moment. That's what we do.

Over the years I have sat in audiences with wet cheeks watching him perform. I saw the boy turn into a man. An untrained actor turn into a pro. I saw him gain a strength that reflected in his performances. I heard audiences hush when he began to sing and cheer him in the end. The boy, my child, possessed a voice handed down to him from generations before and given to the world when he was born.

He won a Drammy, a coveted award for a Portland actor. I sat on the swing feeling for the first time far removed from his achievement. At first I felt left out. I was sitting with their dog while he was getting an award. I felt all of the time and energy I'd given his career forgotten and unimportant. But maybe more than anything, I felt that my time for him had ended.

I'm proud of this boy, now man, who fought the battles of a tough career. I am proud of the man who was once a nervous kid in the wings now taking the stage with a power that possesses the moment. I know in my heart that I did all I could to support him and allow him this dream.

I sat on the swing and smiled.

"Millie, Daddy won a Drammy."

I think she smiled.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Understand Backwards

I ponder the words. Sometimes I look at them from different angles wondering how someone else might read them. Oh, they are fine words. I wish I had written them.

The book is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I happened to pick it up while sitting in the car waiting for my granddaughter to come out of school. The book I had in the car the day before had made way into the house to undergo final digestion. Luckily, my friend had given me some of her books that were hitchhiking in the trunk of my car. I'd only read a few pages when I came across the phrase.

You live it forward but understand it backwards.

Perfect words for the way I feel, the way I write. An understanding of something I could not say as well. A definition for growing older.

We all know the saying that when a child becomes a parent, he/she realizes that said parents were really smart. I found an even bigger metamorphosis in my sixties. Clarity seems to have settled in, and I am thrilled to know that I don't know everything. I seem to be philosophising while still needing to look up the spelling of the word. Stress, anger, despair seem to sit on the sidelines because I refuse to accept their interference. I don't need to be the winner of an argument. Heck, I don't need to argue. I can like who I am and not apologize for it. I can wear my flaws. I can just be me. I can understand it backwards.

I wonder if you can play it backwards while you play it forward. I really don't think so. But there again is another point to ponder.

My mother understood this playing it back. I wish we would have know what playing it back was all about when we had her with us. Our conversations with her could have been richer. I feel a bit cheated at missing this depth of communication with those gone now. And, those younger than me don't speak the language.

You live it forward but understand backwards.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's a Good Thing

Field Day!!! The classes are spread across the field. Fifth graders are leading each activity. Parents supervise and one grandparent wanders the field looking for her granddaughter.

School is winding down. The energy on the field can only mirror the energy residing in the classrooms. Teachers get a reprieve on this Friday from children who are counting down the days. They are running their energy off on the field....not a teacher in sight.

"Can Hannah come over for a sleepover?" Gabby asks as soon as I arrived.

"I'm sure she can," I answered. "We have all summer."

Of course, I know that after about one week of vacation, the girls will be bored. Our little townhouse will be confining and piles of games in the closet ignored. All parents are praying for sunshine.

Being gone for the entire month of July will make some changes in the summer schedule for everyone here. Maybe it is a good thing. I need the month with my sisters, my friends, my family back in Ohio and Indiana. I wish I could take my family with me. I vacillated between going or not.

Sometimes I find it hard to separate myself from my family and my self-imposed responsibilities. Sometimes I find it hard to ask for things for myself. Maybe I don't know how. I have been the responsible parent. I am committed to doing all I can for my grandchildren. However, I'm also committed to myself. I know I need a break and down time without responsibility.

I don't think I'm alone when it comes to the guilt when we want a little break from grandparenting...from parenting. There's nothing wrong with it. We just wear the same suit every day and find it hard to step away.

I should have taken more breaks as a mom. I would have been a better one. So I have learned a lesson. I've learned that there are other responsible adults who can fill my shoes. It is rather egotistical of me to think that I have all the answer and that I should carry the weight.

The  children run from game to game. As I watch my granddaughter, a little niggle settles in. I will miss my family for those weeks away; however, I am wise enough to realize that my time away will offer the girls' parents new opportunities with their children. It is good thing I do leaving for awhile. Yes, a good thing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Death of a Bracelet

RIP was written on the paper. I opened the page knowing that the words on it would be all from Gabby's heart. The death of a bracelet.

"So why is the dead bracelet in water?" I asked my daughter.

"I don't know. You know Gabby," she answered.

Ah, yes, I know Gabby. In many ways, I understand Gabby quite well because she has a bit of her grammy in her. Her imagination is wild and wonderful. Her heart encompasses all that passes by. She is quirky, silly and absolutely delightful. Gabby would never be able to purposely hurt anyone. It would never cross her mind.

This hair band was very inportant to me because it was on my rist or in my hair for a 1 year. It brings back lots of memirys. I loved that hair band.

Hm. We could work on the spelling a bit, but the wit and humor of the little girl amazes me. Yes, she is sincere, but it didn't start that way. It started when Mommy broke the band. A little idea blossomed into a full-fledged drama of creative thinking and ingenuity. Give her an idea, and she runs with it.

It's not always easy dealing with a child who has a mind that works a mile a minute. An imagination that knows no limits. A way of thinking that pulls in all of the sparkle of the world and wraps it up with love. Sometimes the silliness of it catches on.

Next weekend we will have a memorial for the wet, dead bracelet. I'm amazed that the broken arm band wasn't wrapped with a band-aid or resuscitated immediately following the attack. Probably a good thing I wasn't there at the time. The two of us could have really made the most of it. I hope Gabby never loses this sense of ridiculous. I hope she always sees the world with a little tilt toward the absurd.

It seems to have worked well for me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Normal Day

"You cooked, I'll clean up," I told my daughter after a wonderful dinner of pulled pork and baked beans.

Syd helped put things away while I scrubbed fairly clean plates. We ate well tonight.

Stacey has a guy in her life. He's coming over. I think I'll go upstairs and read. A nice warm bath. The window open and a summer breeze coming in. I sit with a new book that is set where I grew up. Feet up in my own little world, a granddaughter pops in.

"Grams, Mom said I can sleep with you tonight," Sydney informs me.

"Ah, isn't it a school night?"

"Uh-huh."

"Let's wait until school is out."

"Okay."

Back to my book.

"Hi, Grammy."

"Hi, Gabby."

"I think I'll come up and sit with you every night."

"Good. I'd like that."

"Well, gotta go."

Back to my book. Wow, a really good book.

"Grammy. I have sad news. My bracelet died," Gabby said holding a plastic container. Bracelet is written across the top.

"What happened, Honey?" I ask with much concern in my voice and a giggle hidden in my throat.

"Mommy broke it," she replied. "I'm going to have a memor....a memor....."

"A memorial?"

"That's it. I'm having a memorial for it. I need to write the invitations."

Off she goes. Back to my book. Where the heck was I?

"Grammy?"

"Yes, dear."

"Here's your invitation. Will you give Uncle and Auntie their invitation?"

"Of course, I will."

She disappears and I open my invitation to the 'memoreall'. All of the essential information seems to be there.

The door opens as I finish reading the 12 words.

"Did you read it?"

"I did. I would be love to come to your memorial."

By now it's bedtime for Gabby. I settle in with my book. The house is quiet. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

I decide to turn in for the night as does my daughter.

Lights out. My door opens.

"Mom, something's wrong with the dog."

Out of bed and into her room. Puddles looks up at me.

"Let him come into my room."

He won't come with me but runs to the stairs.

"He needs to go out."

"He just went out. Okay, I'll take him out again."

Puddles goes out and does his biz then comes in, hops up on my bed and looks at me.

"What now?" I ask him.

He again runs to the stairs. I take him down. He needs water. Water given. Water drank. Up we go again.

I settle him in with Stacey and return to my soft pillow. My phone rings after about five minutes. It's my daughter in the room next door.

"Mom, I have ants in my room."

Ah, the life of a grandma living with her family.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Bottle Full of Transitions

"If I could keep time in a bottle......"

Spring is the beginning of summer but for many a time of transition. Children graduate. Children come home from college. Children move up a year in school and maybe leave the school they have attended for six years. Families are in constant transition. Summer just seems to bring on the realization that time cannot be stopped or put into a bottle.

Transitions.

I let that word stand alone because we in reality go through transitions alone. We might share them with others, but the truth is that we each process transitions for ourselves. Birth, death, retirement, all of it included in that constant transition that goes on.....sometimes when we don't even know it.

Life seems to go up and down. We make the most of the ride holding our hands up in the air when we go over the high points and learning what we're made of when we travel through the low points. We change in small ways. Sometimes in big ways. We change.

Time went so quickly when my son was in Chicago at Northwestern. One day he graduated from high school, the next it was from college. My granddaughter has gone from child to young woman in the course of a few months. In the blink of an eye, I have become a mother, mother-in-law, a grandmother. Oh, I wish I could keep time in a bottle.

Life goes on. We hop on the roller coaster the day we are born and dismount the day we die. We write a book in our years of transition. A book that sometimes makes us cry, but mostly, it makes us experience moments of reflection filled with laughter and joy. Today is a new page.

Transitions.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Grandma Chair

We spread it out on the ground. The picnic basket sitting between us. Sunblock in place. A gorgeous day. A blanket day.

Saturday Gabby and I attended and outdoor band concert. Our friend Heather plays the clarinet. We sat next to the covered shelter where we had a clear view of her. We watched the band while eating our picnic. It was a good day for Grammy and Gabby. Before long, the girl leaned against her grandma. Eventually, she made her way sitting between Gram's legs leaning back. I became a grandma chair. We sat snuggled under a bright sun enjoying the music but even more the companionship.

Later in the day the blanket would again leave the trunk of my car. I spread it out across the grass and laid my weary bones upon it. I had been working in my son's yard for the past three hours. I felt like a little kid once more dragging the blanket and my dolls to the yard beneath the old mulberry tree. A blanket on the grass is the best.

It's funny the things you remember. Mom and Dad had a car blanket. Red plaid, I believe. We had two blankets when the kids were growing up. One was an old yellow blanket and a grey Pendleton blanket. We sat on those watching fireworks, eating chicken, sometimes even playing games. Now I have three blankets in my car. They have been to ballgames, picnics, the Zoo. On cold days they have even found their way around a cold child or adult.

The blanket spread across the grass. I cautiously laid down. The dog was busy chewing on bark or digging in her spot below the hill. I closed my eyes and listened to rustling leaves and birdsong. A blanket pulled out for one of the first of our summer days. 

I like being a grandma chair. Good times are had on a blanket beneath the summer sun.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Dance of a Child

She hopped into the car talking a mile a minute. She beat her friend, who is a math wiz, in a math contest. She picked a wonderful toy from the teacher's bonus box. The talking seemed as though it would never cease.

"Grammy, I love you," she said amid the chatter. "You are the best grandma in the whole world."

Such simple beautiful words. I glanced in the rear view mirror. "Thank you, Sweetheart."

"Well, you are."

As a child, I was thrilled when an adult recognized me. As a parent, I was thrilled when my children said "Ma" for the first time. I could not wait form my grandchildren to recognize their grandma. But I treasure the unexpected.

Throughout the day, I thought of her words often. I hadn't done anything special. I just picked her up from school. I praised her for her success in the classroom. I listened to her adventures and shared them with her. I had done nothing to deserve such beautiful words. Or had I?

I know my granddaughters. Sydney does not like to talk about her day. She would rather come home, grab a snack and have me at her side as she does her homework. The snuggling and talk would come later in the day.

Gabby wants so much for someone to just listen. She doesn't want to ask for it, but delights in receiving the attention. I just need to learn the dialogue in order to be that someone for her. No presents are required. No allowances given. No oowy goowy gushing. Just learning the dance. A dance that differences with each child.

I looked at Gabby after we got home and wondered if she realized how deeply she is loved. My heart swelled with pride. My heart warmed. A grandma is loved.

The words were not the only signs of love. The love came through in the delight she had in telling about her day to someone who cared. Love comes in many guises. Yesterday mine came in just a few impromtu words from a beautiful little girl.

The dance of a child.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Air Head Grammy

Algorithm. What?!?!?! She's a third grader!

I saw the word and immediately went brain dead. Too old. I'm too darn old for this! Stop the world I want to get off! Egads (cartoon figure of me pulling out my hair)!

"Maybe you can do this with Daddy tonight," I told Gabby.

"Okay," she said. She thinks Grammy is mathless.

Well, that was easy; Dad can handle it. Yet....my eyes kept going back to her homework folder. A little voice was saying, "You can do it. Sure, you can. I'm sure you can."

"Gabby, we can do this," I said. And sure enough, we did.

I remember my parents talking about the difficulty of learning new math. I did the same with my own children. Math has changed in the two years between my granddaughters. New catches us off-guard. I had read the instructions and looked at the example. It was 'all Greek to me'. Then I decided to toss out the example, clear the butterflies and focus on the problem. I could do it. I just needed to tell myself those words. I could do it.

The kids are learning in new ways. Many times I think they are going at it the long way, but the idea is clear. The kids are learning to process information quickly in their heads. Gabby multiplies backwards. She finds her answer in two different steps from what I learned. She is learning to calculate. Her brain is the calculator she is using.

Algorithm. I feels like the word must have been invented long after I was born, because it was never part of my life. I hated math....still do. I go brain dead whenever math homework comes up. But I'm not too old to learn.

I hear this all the time from friends. I'm too old to learn Facebook. I'm too old to learn a new phone. I'm too old to do this or that. I believe that we do have blanks where before we had all the blanks filled. I do believe that we live on overload and feel we just don't need that one more piece to topple the load. I know that I often am too tired to tackle something new. But I can do it. One step at a time.

The math was finished. I know it was all correct. Gabby seemed pleased that her air-headed Grammy could make it look easy. Little does she know.....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bearing the News

And then a bear came in the yard. And then a bear came in the yard.

You probably don't know the song about the chicken who came into the yard. The New Christie Minstrel did. Today is seems appropriate since two bears have wandered into the city in the last two days. Big black bears.

I'm watching live TV coverage of the bear roaming around behind an elementary school. It looks as though the entire police force has it surrounded, yet the bear eludes them. I know that the children in the school are glued to the windows watching. A nature lesson a step away. A lesson in saving a bear is in progress.

The bears seem to be coming in for food. Deer and coyote often find themselves within city limits, but bears are unusual. This poor bear is finding more than he bargained for. They think that the vegetation that normally the bear would eat this time of the year has not yet appeared. The weather has detained it. The bear wakes from a winter sleep, and dinner is not ready yet.

I know that my granddaughters will want to know all about the bear. It will be all over the news tonight. Sometimes nature insists on teaching lessons. We often forget how wild the area is surrounding our towns and city. We forget that our neighbors are bears, deer, beaver, mountain lion. We forget that we, too, are their neighbors.

Nature calls us back to reality. Today it calls in the visit by a very confused bear.