Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ouch!

Ah, this aging thing is a mixture of peace and pain. Today it is the pain that sits in the forefront. Ouch!

Like many others I am suffering from a degenerative disease in my thumb joints. It started a few years ago with often achy pain in my left hand and has progressed to severe pain in my left hand with my right hand chasing closely behind. the deformity in my left thumb becomes more pronounced. Most time I deal well with it. Not so today.

I cannot have the surgery to save my thumbs. Being part of the poor part of this society, I have no means to pay the co-pay for one surgery let alone two. When I hear of women and men getting their bodies updated, I cringe. There are many of us who have to make do and suffer. It would be nice if more money was put into helping those who cannot find their way out of their circumstances. If I lived in England, I could have it all done for free. Oh, I know, I would be paying higher taxes, but I have seen their system at work and am jealous. So I deal with my pain, and, for today, try to keep my chin up.

It is difficult at times to keep up with that mind inside of our heads when our bodies hurt. We try to overlook the pain. so we can play on the floor with little ones and once in awhile chase a baseball. I gave up rolling down hills and doing cartwheels. Just not sure I would survive. Yes, I'm smiling. We grandparents do what we can to keep up. For myself, I want my grandchildren to remember me as an active person. There is plenty of time for sitting and watching when I am older.

Someone brought a card to the counter at the store last week. I have tried to find it since but have drawn the conclusion that it is sold out. The card was for a ninety year old woman. On the front it had a picture of an elderly woman in shorts and cowboy boots going up a slide...the wrong way. All you could see was her backside and determination. What a great card! I loved her individuality and carefree attitude. We should all be so young at heart.....despite our aches and pains.

Okay, so my thumb hurts today. I see what it will become and am saddened to loose that part of me that did needle point and once wrote with a pen. My crooked thumb is like that of my father's. Perhaps I am just carrying a memory in that thumb. Ah, this thing of getting older is a quandary.

Ouch......

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gabby is Eleven

She came into my life eleven years ago. I was the first to hold her after her parents. I lifted her from the warming bed and cried. I knew that my deceased mother had kissed her before she entered the world. I knew that she was a blessing.

Gabby is light. She is all love and happiness. She is curious and creative. She is a bouncy ball and star in the sky. And, to top it off, she is one of my very best friends. She listens to me, and I listen to her. More than anything, I learn from her.

Can't isn't a word in Gabby's vocabulary. She is willing to tackle any task. It doesn't occur to her that she can't do something. Indeed she goes forward with energy and laughter. Should someone need help, Gabs is there. She gives her all for those she loves. Her heart is a tender leaf.

Gabby, like her mother and Grams, is a little on the short side. I equate her to Tigger. She  bounces, flips and seems to have wings. Thus, she is in gymnastics and taking her energy to a lovely form of art and body.

Tomorrow my granddaughter is eleven. I knew that first day that I held her that I was given a gift. I know each time I am with her that my life is better because of her.

Happy Birthday, Gabby. I love you very much.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I am a Tool

She joined the sales team at the store. A woman who had not worked for a long time but had extensive experience. Finally I had someone to work with who was over twenty-five. Not that I mind the younger women. They just seem to have a different work ethic. Well, that what I thought when I started at Hallmark.

I got a call from my boss asking if I would come in earlier. Evidently one of the younger women was being moved to a different store. There was unrest and I was needed. I guess I must be the restful, so I entered the friction that hung over the store. One problem stemmed from this new employee telling one of the other employees what she expected to happen when they worked together. It was a 'hm' moment for me. A warning bell went off in my head. I did what I usually do in such circumstances. I listened, I tried to stay neutral. Then I became aware of something that brings me to this page.

Working with teens years ago taught me much. I learned a technique that helped me open doors of communication. I learned not to judge. I learned to listen, even when what I heard was very disturbing. I learned to be quiet and to use intelligence instead of reaction. I learned that I am a tool. I am not the answer. This was true for the kids as risk, this was true for my family, and this is true in my every day life.

Sometimes as we age, we think our way is the only way. We come to our senior years full of opinions and judgement. We are to some degree the worst culprits. "I'm too old to change!" Well, we are not too old to change. We might as well just go to the end of our lives and drop off the earth if we honestly believe that to be true.

I learned with the teens as I have with most of my life that we walk softly into relationships. No one will do things as I do. No one will have the same craziness in their brains that usually follows me each day. I love having fun and want everyone around me to enjoy life as well. That doesn't happen if I step on them.

I was a bit nervous going back into the work arena after so many years of being out of a job. I didn't want to be the old woman. The girls wanted someone young in that position. I did not fit the bill. So I listened. I watched. I learned to care about them and their lives. I asked them for help. I asked for their opinions. We became friends and love working together. I continually learn.

We have a lot to give but cannot give it to those who are not ready to listen. Perhaps in the listening, we will make better relationships. Perhaps putting our opinions aside, we will learn to expand what we already believe and might even change our minds. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can build bridges between people. We can make the world better. We can expand our minds. We can create peace in an atmosphere of pain. Perhaps we can be more.

I am a tool. Not the answer.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Role of the Grandparent

She ran to the car hopped in and kissed me. We both smiled and caught up on the activities of our time apart. Nothing had changed between the granddaughter and her grams. We stopped at the school; Gabby ran out before everyone else in her class landing in my arms. My heart was overflowing. Yes, I finally saw my granddaughters after three months apart.

The girls were full of questions about the new babies. We caught up on school, dance and gymnastics. More questions about the babies. We did homework and played games. We did all the things that we always love to do....the best just being together again.

I tell my little twin grandbabies about their cousins. I hate that my family is torn apart. I cannot heal the differences. I feel for grandparents who are estranged from their grandchildren. I feel for those children who have no grandparents who are involved in their lives. Grandparents have a definite role in the life of a family. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the future not just that of the children but perhaps the world. Learning to love and accepting what it is to be loved affects the rest of our lives. Knowing that we have unconditional love from adults teaches us what that kind of love looks and feels like. Safety in the arms of a grandparent. Freedom to be ourselves with those who do not judge us. Freedom to be in a home away from home where we can be ourselves. All of these are gifts we grandparents can give.

It's not unusual for me to end the day with a backache. I sometimes am so tired that I just roll into bed. That distance from sitting on the floor to standing again sometimes feels impossible. But I refuse to give up. We have such little time to be with our families. We have such little time.

My week has been full of blessing. They come in ages thirteen, ten (almost eleven) and three months. I hope someday they remember bits and pieces of their time with their grams. I hope that my older grandchildren will pass on the things I have taught them to their young cousins, to their children. We are gifts to our families. We need to be a gift that gives to the best of our abilities and creative spirits. This week I had all of my grandchildren. This week I have a smile that does not stop.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'll Get Around to It

Each night I go to sleep, I look at two pieces of artwork sitting on the wall next to my bed. Pictures painted by their hands. The last school year pictures that I have of them from two years ago sit in the frame with the pictures. A small lamb that my sister sent when the babies were born sits in between the paintings. The pictures my granddaughters left behind remind me of the last day I was with them and the love we have for one another.

  

My daughter-in-law asked if we could wash the windows. About 30 inches from the floor all of the glass in the back doors and French doors have dirty smears. Oddly enough, the smears are about the height of Millie's (the Airedale) nose. I look at them and am filled with love for this big lummox of a dog. I'm reminded of my past pets and another big dog named Odie. They are indeed the remnants of loving pets....of loved pets.

Sometimes I come home from babysitting the twins. With occasional spit up, I come home smelling a bit of baby burp accompanied by a discolored shoulder. No matter where I put the burp cloth, the babies seem to miss it when the time comes. Honestly, I smile every time I take off the offended shirt remembering the feel of my grandchildren's heads on my shoulder. A grandma's cheek resting on the tiny head of the grandbabies are memories I will cherish forever. I can feel each of my grandchildren's downy heads by just closing my eyes.

I remember how Mom refused to dust away tiny fingerprints and smudges on furniture and on windows after a family visit ended. Her children lived far away. Visits home were few and far between. "I'll get around to it," she would say. She loved those reminders of the days of her grandchildren in the house.

Sometimes my chores get set aside when I am asked to spend the day with a grandchild. Sometimes I sit for awhile after they visit and cherish each of those moments with them. A small email from a granddaughter is truly a gift from the gods for me. Those remnants of time spent with our grandchildren are so priceless that none of us could afford to pay for them. And we get them for free. Give me time with my grandchildren. As to the rest of my life....I'll get around to it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Knee Deep

In case you wonder where I am, I'm knee deep in babies and working on days I don't have babies. Will probably be down to once a week until life settles in. Missing my daily talk with you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pack your bags....

Pack your bags. Where? Into parenthood and grandparenthood. The question is: Can you really pack your bag? I think not. No one can prepare enough for the challenges of being a parent and even a grandparent. Each child is a new journey. Each step with a first child is sometimes difficult and yet amazing. Still, you can't pack everything you need, because it changes each day.

"What worked yesterday doesn't work today!" a comment shared by many parental type adults. So very true.

When we lived in Wisconsin, I was fortunate to have classes given by Visiting Nurses that gave us a bit of insight into what we faced as first time mothers. Of course back then, dads were not included. The nurses in the hospital taught us to bathe our babies and to care for their needs. Still with all of that knowledge, I struggled on my own. I learned by hands-on experience. I don't know how often I stumbled onto some way that made my life as a mom easier and wondered why no one had told me about it. I had no family around. We rarely had a babysitter. When I had two sick babes, I tried my best but often fell apart in the process. It is an exhausting job.

So many grandparents say, "Well, at least we can leave them at the end of the day."  That is not always true. Being a grandparent doesn't always come naturally. For many of us, it didn't mean we left at the end of the day. I do not have access to my granddaughters now. My daughter will do anything she can to justify keeping them away. Being a grandparent away from my granddaughters cuts me right to the heart. I sit with my grandbabies wanting my granddaughters to play with these darling babies. But it cannot be. I am learning to be a grandparent without my grandchildren. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

Recently, a new grandmother confided in me that it is taking her awhile to get 'back in the saddle' again. Being away from babies for twenty plus years just might make a grandparent tentative at first. I had two beautiful little girls teach me how to be a decent grandma for these twins. It has been a long journey. My bag is packed pretty full by now.

We can't pack that bag of tricks that makes us instant parents and grandparents. Each child is different and at each age, we, too, are different. I won't be packing any more baby bags. This is the end of my grandchildren. I embrace every minute of watching them grow. I embrace watching my son become a father.

The moments fly. Pack your bag.