Monday, April 30, 2012

Buried Treasure

It had been about six weeks since we had seen one another. If you have followed my blog, then you know that my daughter has been keeping my granddaughters from me because of the differences between the two of us. Two sweet girls caught in the middle of a family problem at ages ten and thirteen, lacking the skills to deal with the things they have been told.

I am caught between a daughter who uses her children in this struggle to come to terms with her problems and in protecting my granddaughters. I choose to walk away from a bad situation to keep my sanity and to take my granddaughters away from constant confrontation.

Last Thursday I picked Gabby up from school. Upon seeing me, she threw her arms around me and would not let go. She held my hand and hugged me over and over again. We stepped back into the familiar conversation and interaction. Sydney was more reserved. She is always more reserved. She put her arms around me and gave me a kiss. Conversations started with the usual banter and filling each other in on the happenings in our lives. We couldn't wait to 'catch up'.

We came back to the place I am living now. The fun started. Homework was done and a game of pinball was followed by a hilarious game of flipping monkeys onto a tree. We sat on my bed and ate crackers. The girls were all giggles adding crumbs to my bed. It felt as if we had never been separated. They ignored that Mom was giving them boundaries and I stayed away from the subject. Neither wanted to leave when the time came to go home.

On Saturday night I was 'allowed' to take my granddaughters to see their Uncle in The Andrews Brothers. What a wonderful night! The girls laughed, we held hands, Gabby cuddled into my arms and watched her uncle sing and dance. After we went backstage with Uncle. Gabby did a little dance on the stage and was delighted. The girls held on to their uncle as if he was going to disappear before their eyes. It was a night of healing.

I get the girls again on Thursday. I am hoping that my family will heal. As for me, I found buried treasure. I found my girls still the same beneath the things that my daughter had done. I found that they were playing the game the same as I so we can be together again. They know that love never dies or changes. Despite it all, they remain strong girls holding true to what they know and believe. I am a very happy Grammy.

So for those of you who have family problems, those of you struggling to have time with your nieces and nephews, your children, your grandchildren, there is buried treasure. Be patient and pray. There is treasure. Perhaps it will find you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bravo!

The crowd cheers! What? You didn't hear them cheer? Well, you should have. You should hear that crowd whenever you do something worth cheering about. Might be just as simple as getting out of bed and getting dressed. Small step well worth a cheer when it has been difficult in the past. I hear the cheer every morning when I am making the bed. Why? Because I want to get my lazy bones right back into it and sleep a little bit longer. And the crowd cheers!

I think we forget that each day is special. It is filled with little successes. Oh, not those things that make the news or that bring gifts and flowers to the door. No, the little successes are our big successes. I have a hard time some days finding my smile let alone something good. It doesn't happen often, but it does find me and hold on for me during the day. I forget my successes. Let me break this down so you know why we need to accept those little positives.

We are blessed. Those of us who seek answers, who reach out to others and who learn from life are rich indeed. All of the things that attach to us spill over onto others. The struggles give us new outlook and strength. Life teaches us in order to teach others. The crowd cheers with each lesson learned.

A simple smile to a stranger. A thank you wave to the driver of a car who stopped to let you into traffic. Picking up a dropped item for a person whose hands are full. Reading a greeting card for someone who can't see well. Bravo! Well played.

Perhaps if people focused more on their successes instead of their failures, focused on the positive instead of the negative, the crowd would cheer more often. Perhaps that constant strive to feel the good in life will some day become natural. Just perhaps life will be good each day because we expect it to be so.

Today you deserve a standing ovation. Bravo! My friends. Bravo!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It was a First

April 25, 1972. My back ached that morning. I didn't feel so good. I spent the day lazing around. That night I crawled into bed next to my husband. He had a pad of paper and a pen in hand. "Here comes another one," I said. He marked the time on the pad. About midnight there were no more. We slept in our clothing.

At five o'clock it all started up again but in full force. We hopped into our little Corolla and dashed off to the hospital. I didn't know how to do this. My mother there to help me. My nervous husband was my only source of help and, in truth, not much help. The woman in the bed across the hall was screaming. I refused to have my child come into the world to a screaming mother.

"It's time," the nurse said. Time???? Nine months had not prepared me for this moment. Twenty-five years had not prepared me for the birth of my first child. I needed more time!  Indeed, it was time.  Back then drugs were just an automatic. I was given a painful shot in my back then settled in for the most incredible scene I had ever witnessed before or since.

The mirror was tilted, so I could watch. "What's that?" I asked.

"That is your child's head. Looks like your baby has a lot of hair."

Hair? I was expecting a bald baby. This first glimpse of my baby was a crown of black hair. She would look like her father. At that moment, I fell in love.

My body was doing its thing while I laid back and watched this miracle that had happened a bizillion times before. This was one of many births, but all new to me. The tiny child was born into the waiting hands of the doctor. "You have a girl," he announced.


Tears ran down my cheeks as I watched the nurse place my tiny girl into the warming bed. She curled into a small ball with her hands held together as if in prayer beneath her little cheek. Indeed she had a head of beautiful, black hair.

Twenty-five years ago I discovered a love I had never before known. The journey of forty years has not always been easy, but that love that was placed in my arms all those years ago is still the one I love to hold again and again.

I was given a gift that day.....and I got to take her home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sorting Through Yesterday

While trying to find my great grandmother's obituary in the pile of old family pictures and clippings, I decided that I should leave future generations something a bit nicer than what I was dealing with. "Who are these people!?" I yelled to no one. On a few, Mom had written names. Many of the old yellow clippings were ruined where creased. Something has to be done.

I sorted the piles into family names. Some piles were a bit larger than others. Most lacked information. Thank God for computers. I can place each family in a file folder organizing information with each picture. I can make a living family tree without buying a program to do it for me. Pictures of the family homes can be added. I can work the tree to the point of my family in order to keep it up-to-date. I can do this for my generations to come.

When I grew up, we had photo albums. Bits and pieces of the past were scattered throughout the books. I alone had five large scrapbooks and no place to store them. So, I took them apart. I discarded old tattered pieces of pompoms and scraps of what then were big events. I saved the pages that held old Valentines and other cards. I took pages of photos and scanned them saving them in family files. Now I will place them in archival plastic sheets saving what is left of that history. News clips can be scanned and fixed to be more readable preserving the last bits of information.

It is time do some housekeeping. Keeping of the old  that are gone and preparing the new that will be old one day. Perhaps another family member will pick up the torch and keep the history moving forward.

History. We are all part of it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grabbing the Bully by the Horns

I will try to keep my emotions at a minimum in writing this blog. Right now anger is pounding on the door. So I write in order to head it off.

"I asked him how his day went as I do every day," my good friend said. "I always ask what good  happened and what was not so good. My kids always tell me."

It was an emotion-filled conversation. A topic about which I have strong feeling  was sitting in the car with us.

"I had a message on the phone the next morning from a friend. She asked if Sam was okay."

Sam is the dearest child. He looks at everything much like my Gabby. Life is beautiful and friends are great. Always positive children eager to help, eager to please. He is just a delight. After listening to the call she asked her son what had happened.

They were at recess. One boy began taunting Sam and his friend telling them to kiss each other. A second boy joined the taunting. Soon a crowd of other children surrounded the two second graders. When the little boys refused, the two boys took them to the wall and shoved their faces into it. "Kiss the wall," the first bully said.

The crowd dispersed and the second graders went to the principle along with the two boy. I don't know who finally caught on to the situation. I'm sure the two bullies didn't go voluntarily. The principle suspended the first boy. I don't know what happened to discipline the second child. Their parents were called. Sam's were not.

Where were the playground supervisors who allowed the bullying to get to the point that it reached? Why weren't the little boys parents called immediately to tell them of this horrible episode? Is suspension enough?

When she told me the story, I immediately wanted to go to the school myself. I don't get it. Our schools here are very protective of the children. Who dropped the ball? Each recess has at least three supervisors on the playground.

In thinking about this, I have concluded that the parents of the bullies should have responsibility in this to the point that counseling should be involved for those families. The two bullies did see the school counselor. But we all know that bullying many times is learned in the home. I have not seen the new movie about bullying. Reviews are extremely high. Perhaps it needs to be shown in the schools. Perhaps it should be mandatory for cases such as this for students and parents.

As for Sam, his world of trust has been fractured. I need to add here that the school did not get in touch with his parents. Two days after investigating the incident and allowing the school time to respond, my friend made her visit to the principle. No one had called them. There excuse was that they were dealing with the two culprits. Not good enough.

My friend informed me that she had another long talk with Sam explaining to him that no one has the right to touch him or talk to him in a way that hurts him. He has a right to protect himself and has sources to help him. Had this happened to Gabby, she would have wondered why anyone would treat her in such a mean way. She gives out so much love as does Sam. The believe the best in all.

I guess I cannot keep the emotion out of this writing. During my life, I have felt the sting of betrayal by friends and family. I have scars. As another friend has often said, "Sarcasm is scarcasm". We learn to be more callused as we grow up. What a shame.

We as adults we need to be aware of what we present to children. Criticism, guilt, gossip, bitterness and anger all feed the fire called bullying. The changes we can make may not be earth shattering, but they can affect those around us. We are the opposition of the bullies. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Medical Uncare

For the last five weeks, my eyelids have been itching and are swollen. I know that it is allergies. Nothing was helping. My list of remedies is quite long so I won't add it here. I called my doc. "Get on Zyrtec and use Benedryl cream on your eyelids". So I did.
Week later: Still itching!!!!!

I called again to inform my doctor that I was going to remove my eyelids if this keeps up. She was going on vacation but set me up with an another doctor. So......

He took my pulse. I knew it was good because it is always good. He asked about my above mentioned remedies. I ran down the list. His response, "Sounds like you have done everything you could do."

Now I had to go to the doctor to have my eyes checked. There was no eye checking. We had pulse taking and list writing but no "Let's have a look". He then went on to recommend an ointment adding that it would take care of the problem and sent me on my way.

The more I thought about it, the more I became a bit ticked off. This is not the first time I've gone to the doctor with the hands-off-diagnosis. I grew up being poked and stabbed getting results from a thorough doctor. I felt like back then I got my money's worth.

Tonight I'm sitting here wondering if my $4.99 tube of ointment will heal me. It seems like a fair price for the service I got today. Somehow I think the doctor will charge more. I call that medical uncare.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Right Off My Back

She took the coat right off my back. Oh, yes, she did. This was the way the week ended.

Life crack me up. I am literally surprised at the antics life proposes. I don't know if everyone finds such odd happenings in their lives or if I am just given these tidbits of the unexpected so I have something to write about. But, friends, life is  a hoot!

I walked across the parking lot from the pharmacy to my car. A car stopped for me to cross. I got to my car, putting the key into the lock.

"You have beautiful hair," yelled the woman in the car that had waited for me. I looked behind me. No one was there so....

"Thank you," I yelled back. I got into the car and immediately pulled down the visor to look at my hair. Hm. Not necessarily a good hair day. Hm again. I must look good.

Yesterday I stopped at a favorite deli for a turkey sandwich and an excellent cup of coffee. I was settling my computer onto the table as a trio of women came in behind me. One of this three immediately came over to me and in an excited voice said, "I love your jacket! Where did you get it?"

Now said jacket has been riding on my back for at least three years. I agree that it is adorable. A bit unusual and very much to my liking. I love my jacket. I explained this and that this jacket was most likely no longer in stores.

"Can I try it on?" she asked.

Oh, my. What an unusual week I seemed to be having. Rather enjoyable at that. She tried the jacket on and loved it even more. I was glad to have it back.

"I'm going to Columbia next December. This jacket is just what I want," she confided. She took the information from the label, planning to go online to see if she could find it. They looked like a group of women I would like. All were dressed very well and had nice purses (always a good sign).

"Would you like to borrow it?" I asked. Well, needless to say, this woman almost hyper-ventilated.

So now my jacket might be going to Columbia in December. I won't need it. It is lightweight, you know. She promises to return it and to bring me a gift. This is probably as close to Columbia as I will ever get.

It has been a strange week. I've decided that I must have good taste. At least I have good hair and one good jacket. I hope next week proves to be equally fun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You are the Story

In front of you is a computer. The tools placing the words on the screen are your fingers. Your hands listen to your heart. This is all it takes to be a parent, a child, a grandparent who writes.

Since writing my other blog, Neff Road (www.neffroad.com), I have received beautiful messages from readers telling me that my history is their history, too. Our history. It belongs to many of us not just that of a family. Our history is a history of the times, of a way of life, of things and people who are gone. The old that has been replaced by the new.

But the writing has to come from the heart or it is just descriptive words. Finding your voice is not difficult. I write exactly as I talk. I write what I feel and my observations. All it takes for anyone to write is the will to put words on paper or on the computer. Maybe it is difficult at first. With time the words will find themselves and insist that you put them down. Sometimes feelings are difficult to share. No one wants to hear the dirty details of a life, but they do like to know that we all share struggles. Our successes are the ability of us to find resolutions to those problems that face us, that face us all. The joys are important to share. We all live on this globe and are one big family. Life is a celebration of our differences.

I encourage my readers to write. A blog isn't necessary, but the healing power of words can enhance your life. The history you pass on is a gift. A family tree does not show that Grandma had a great sense of humor, that Grandpa loved to fish. It does not show your childhood and those who lived it with you. Write.

I continue to write this blog. Some days it is difficult to clear my head and find the words or topics. There are days I think I will stop writing the blogs and let them be. Sometimes writing can feel lonely as if no one is out there. But write I will because I do it for myself. We are the words that tells the story. No one else can do it quite the same.

In front of you is a computer screen. Your fingers tap the keys and a story is told. You are the story.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Addiction

I can't fight it. I've tried. I just can't seem to get it out of my system. I've tried so hard, but I just can't. I have to confess. I am addicted to baby things.

This addiction happened when I found out that we were having twin grandbabies. Little clothes seem to call to me. I pick them up and walk around the store then make myself put them back. Sometimes they cling to me saying, "Take me home with you. Take me home."

"Mom, we have four bins of clothing handed down to us," my son said. "Do not buy any more."

Oh, I know. I really know. I need to step away from the tiny clothing. Ohhhhhhhhhh.

This morning I walked into a bookstore with my friend. She immediately grabbed two things for the babies. I picked up books. I put them down. I picked up other books. I managed to leave with only one item, and it was not a book. And, it was not clothing.

I love this thing that happens. What are the young parents thinking in demanding that I not buy things for my grandbabies?! It's impossible to resist. It's like buying a puppy. The clothes are soft, cute, cuddly. They just need love. And, new babies.

I will walk the baby aisle and the toy aisle. I will look at the cuddly stuffed toys and the children's books. I will continue to pick up baby clothing and walk around with it for a bit. I love my baby addiction. I think I will buy a few things.......more.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Single Grandma

Well, I'm frustrated. I don't like this blog design. So excuse me if you see me changing from time to time.  Just a fickle woman.

Today friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Several couples of my mother and dad's generation are celebrating seventy years of marriage. I won't make it to any of those years. I am single and have been for twenty years.

Being a single parent was one thing. Being a single grandparent is quite another story. The thing I have missed most about marriage is that partnership you have with another person to talk over family issue, to share special moments with someone who will remember them with you. But there are perks to this singleness. It can be full of pluses, ignoring the minuses.

When I became a single woman at age forty-six, I found it hard to get back into a 'normal' life. I had married for twenty-three years. Being alone really felt alone. After a bit of feeling sorry for myself and finding isolation my best friend, I learned that there was much more to me than I had ever dreamed. I found that sitting in a restaurant reading a book was a pleasure. I enjoyed going out with friends and doing things on my own. I finally for the first time in my life began to like me and find myself to be good company.

My singleness was not so easy for my children. Being a mom and single didn't work for them. I think perhaps I became a handful for them. They worried about where I was and who I was with. Of course, they were grown and away from home, but I was still Mom. My adjustment was easier than theirs.

The older I have gotten, the more I cherish my single life. I think perhaps the biggest mistake I have made was to always be available to my children. That began when they were small when I was separated from my husband. I've come a long way from then to now. I can see the mistakes I made, but I can't correct them. It is the choice of my children to see me as a person separate from themselves.

A woman I know told me last week that her children had told her she had to move, and they were looking for a place for her. She is in fairly good health and my age. I looked at her wondering why she was handing over her life. She is a vital woman who can very well make sound decision. She is a working woman and one I admire. So what right to the children have to just take over her life. She was shocked and at a loss. All of a sudden she was giving up.

It is the responsibility of our children to allow us to be separate from them. We have an equal obligation to each other to respect our individual lives and not overstep that boundary just because we are related. I am probably a better mom and grandmom now than ever before. I have worked hard to become this single woman who has gone through a great deal and survived to tell about it. I am a long way from that rocking chair.

In my single life as a single grandparent, I find that I have been able to give my grandchildren my complete focus in listening to them and trying to find avenues where they will flourish. I have learned so much in the last ten years about life and aging. My relationship with my parents would have been so much different had I know all I know now. I just didn't know and thought I did.

I am a good grandma. In my heart, I know that I have done whatever I could do to encourage my grandchildren to learn and to grow, to express their creativity and to embrace the world in which they live. I have taught them not to judge but to find beauty where there seems to be none. To walk away from an argument and find peace then communication. I have taught them to look at the stars and beneath the leaves. I have given them a faith that is lived. I have done the best I can.

I am a single grandma. I am a single woman. I am sixty-four years old and embrace who I am with a passion. Should another of this description come along, perhaps I would not be a single woman. Until then, bring it on.

A Single Grandma

Well, I'm frustrated. I don't like this blog design. So excuse me if you see me changing from time to time.  Just a fickle woman.

Today friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Several couples of my mother and dad's generation are celebrating seventy years of marriage. I won't make it to any of those years. I am single and have been for twenty years.

Being a single parent was one thing. Being a single grandparent is quite another story. The thing I have missed most about marriage is that partnership you have with another person to talk over family issue, to share special moments with someone who will remember them with you. But there are perks to this singleness. It can be full of pluses, ignoring the minuses.

When I became a single woman at age forty-six, I found it hard to get back into a 'normal' life. I had married for twenty-three years. Being alone really felt alone. After a bit of feeling sorry for myself and finding isolation my best friend, I learned that there was much more to me than I had ever dreamed. I found that sitting in a restaurant reading a book was a pleasure. I enjoyed going out with friends and doing things on my own. I finally for the first time in my life began to like me and find myself to be good company.

My singleness was not so easy for my children. Being a mom and single didn't work for them. I think perhaps I became a handful for them. They worried about where I was and who I was with. Of course, they were grown and away from home, but I was still Mom. My adjustment was easier than theirs.

The older I have gotten, the more I cherish my single life. I think perhaps the biggest mistake I have made was to always be available to my children. That began when they were small when I was separated from my husband. I've come a long way from then to now. I can see the mistakes I made, but I can't correct them. It is the choice of my children to see me as a person separate from themselves.

A woman I know told me last week that her children had told her she had to move, and they were looking for a place for her. She is in fairly good health and my age. I looked at her wondering why she was handing over her life. She is a vital woman who can very well make sound decision. She is a working woman and one I admire. So what right to the children have to just take over her life. She was shocked and at a loss. All of a sudden she was giving up.

It is the responsibility of our children to allow us to be separate from them. We have an equal obligation to each other to respect our individual lives and not overstep that boundary just because we are related. I am probably a better mom and grandmom now than ever before. I have worked hard to become this single woman who has gone through a great deal and survived to tell about it. I am a long way from that rocking chair.

In my single life as a single grandparent, I find that I have been able to give my grandchildren my complete focus in listening to them and trying to find avenues where they will flourish. I have learned so much in the last ten years about life and aging. My relationship with my parents would have been so much different had I know all I know now. I just didn't know and thought I did.

I am a good grandma. In my heart, I know that I have done whatever I could do to encourage my grandchildren to learn and to grow, to express their creativity and to embrace the world in which they live. I have taught them not to judge but to find beauty where there seems to be none. To walk away from an argument and find peace then communication. I have taught them to look at the stars and beneath the leaves. I have given them a faith that is lived. I have done the best I can.

I am a single grandma. I am a single woman. I am sixty-four years old and embrace who I am with a passion. Should another of this description come along, perhaps I would not be a single woman. Until then, bring it on.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Birth of a Father

The imagery was familiar. I had seen both of my granddaughters hanging about the womb. Sydney peeked around her arm just teasing us. Gabby did her gymnastics long before she took her first breath. It was familiar....but not.

The monitor was smaller. I sat with my chin turned to the ceiling looking at the small screen above us. My son sat next to me. The technician explained each figure on the screen. First the sweet baby girl. A little hand waved at us. Her profile reminded me of Gabby. Our eyes were glued to the monitor continually looking for a clear view of her face. My son held his wife's hand. They both beamed. No one was looking at me, but I'm sure I was smiling as well.

He is a bigger baby. His nose is a little straighter than his sister's. He doesn't seem to care that we have come to call. He lays there looking at a hand that waves in front of his face. The sole of a small foot flashes onto the screen. Oh, my. I think he might have his father's feet.

When my son invited me to join them for the ultra sound, I was thrilled. It doesn't matter how many  grandchildren you have. Each is precious. It is all new with each baby. A new love blooms and grows when we first hold the new bundle.

My son posted a sweet picture of his little son. It is black with pale shades of white and deep black emphasizing his little feature. The sweet face looks slightly down and to the front. My son wrote, "Don't mean to be proud parent but love this picture of our son."

I love the picture of my son becoming a father. We parents know that there are no words to explain the love you have for your child. There are no words. We find in the birth of our children a new feeling we've never had before. His children were there on the screen. His wife held his hand, and they were family.

I watch my son and see the birth of a father.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Changes

Well, if you have already checked out my Neff Road blog, you will note that I have changed my blog format. I've decided that my blogs need to be more fun and updated. Keeping up with the times.

To find your way around this blog, use the tab bar at the top. It will give you many views of this blog. If you click on the black bar on the right, you will find out more about me and my blog. I hope you enjoy this new format. I would love feedback.

We do need to change. We do need to be young grandparents no matter what our ages. I find that my body wants me to give in to this aging process, yet my mind is still active and busy. I think perhaps I'm learning to adjust my pace to my activity so I can give my all when the time comes. We are the new "middle age". It is time for us to grab hold of this new designation and see what we can do with it.

For me, not settling into preconceived ideas and allowing myself to change has made my life better. I think perhaps I offer my family more by being more. I know that in my job, the girls I work with did not want an 'older' woman in the pack. I have surprised them all by diving into my job, working hard and thinking outside the box in my relationships with these younger women. I have a chance to show them that aging does not mean that I can't be fun and keep up with them. I can. I am my worst enemy when it comes to aging. I can either give in to the old view of age or improve my age.

In June I will be 65. I look forward to what changes will happen in this old world of ours. I'm not on this planet long so it would be fun to experience what I can while I'm here and to make a difference in whatever way possible. That all involves the ability to learn and change.

Years ago my children got a computer for me. I was terrified of the thing. Then one day for no apparent reason, I sat down with this technology and told it that it would not defeat me. I taught myself all I know with a little help here and there. I went from that fear to a woman who designed marketing material and found herself to public relations where I worked with media professionals. Fear was my biggest obstacle. As a grandparent, I find that fear is a manipulator. I chose to move forward and find out what lies within this grey matter in my head.

Let me know what you think of this new design. I hope you will continue to visit this woman on a journey into new territory. I'm growing up. It takes a lifetime, you know.