Monday, May 28, 2012

Isaac's Lip-Dubbing Proposal: The Family of Theatre

They began rehearsals long ago.

"We couldn't tell you, Mom," James explained to me.

Hm. Like who would I tell? Hm. Maybe my blog?  Probably a good idea not telling the mama.

I was sitting with Millie. She was trying to sit on me. Seventy-five pounds of Airedale is hard to resist...or fight off. They walked in the door just glowing. Not from the excitement of the twins they are expecting in just a few weeks, but from the experience of being part of Isaac's proposal to Amy.

James and Lisa are part of a special family. I get to be part of that family, because I know these people. It is a family with which I am very well acquainted having worked in the theatre for many years. There is a phenomena that happens in theatre classes and during productions. Families are formed. In fact, when we did shows that involved children, 'parents' (students in the plays) were assigned to each child. They were responsible to see that the child was looked after. It may look like babysitting, but in the end, little families were indeed formed. Kids in theatre are pretty special. They open up to the others in the cast and feel at home once they walk into rehearsal or class. Students showed up at lunch to eat in the theatre 'home'. We became Mom and Dad to many children. Many of those are still my kids.

It's the same for adults as well. There is a friendship that goes along with a theatre production. A bond forms. For some it is a bond that goes along with them the rest of their lives. James and Lisa have such a bond with Isaac and Amy. James and Isaac have been on stage together. Isaac has been great support for James with his show "The Dance". Theatre friends become family. There is nothing they wouldn't do for one another. They become sister and brother. They celebrate one another's successes and support them in their losses. A bond of love and friendship forms that time cannot destroy.

Millions have seen Isaac and Amy at this special time in their lives. Yet, they do not see the family who dances and sings in joy for this couple. It is not celebrity that makes this special now. It is the celebration of these two remarkably talented people saying 'yes' to a life together.

Millie and I had a nice evening. We watched TV. We played fetch. I curled up with her on the floor. She tried to curl up with me on the sofa. We talked about the new babies about to join us. Well, I talked. She listened. She seemed interested. We didn't know there was dancing in the street. But I have been dancing for Isaac and Amy ever since. We celebrate this family of theatre here in Portland. We celebrate friendship and lives that intertwine. We celebrate the milestones and mourn the losses together. We are the family of theatre. We are family.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Proposal

Check this out on youtube. My son and his wife are in the video but you can barely see them. This video was done by our friend Isaac for his lovely Amy. Isaac and Amy are part of the acting community here in Portland. Enjoy. The video has gone viral. For us here in Portland, we are thrilled for Isaac and Amy. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Helloooooo. Who's Out There?

My hand almost bounced when he hit the side. For weeks we have been waiting for him to get more active. She has been a busy body for weeks tumbling and rolling around. He had been quiet and content. The twins are getting ready for their grand entry.

My son, James, and his wife, Lisa, are expecting twins. Baby A is a girl. Baby B is a boy. The little girls has been a whirlwind of activity. Her brother has only recently decided to make himself known. Bless her heart, Lisa allowed the mothers to fell the little boxer announce himself. I don't know if it was a foot or a fist, but he has a mighty punch. We moms giggled and laughed remembering our own babies making themselves known to us. We knew the delight that the new parents are feeling, this mystery of birth. We had an evening of dinner together and talk of babies. It was a nice blending of families experiencing a time I hope will be often repeated.

"Watch this," my son said. "Hey, Millie (their Airedale), go find the babies!"

Millie ran across the floor poking her nose into the baby bulge. She nudged the babes.

"She does this almost every time."

We all wonder how Millie will react. I have a feeling she will be the Nana as in Peter Pan. She is already hanging very close to Lisa.

I am sad that my granddaughters are not part of this experience. It is so very wrong. Family problems should not affect the children, but they do. I pray for a change of heart. At least I am seeing the girls once a week. Thank God.

We wonder at the children who reside in the womb. What will they look like? Who will they look like? We already know they have hair. Will it be light like Daddy or dark like Mommy? Yesterday a knock on the wall to the outside. Perhaps a little mind was wondering who belongs to the voices he hears.

"Helloooooo. Who's out there?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Apologies from me for not keeping up my writing these last days. I have a feeling summer will be as such. My excuse is that I have been working extra hours this week. I hope to find my groove once this week is past. Of course, twins coming this summer will make the writing iffy at best. So please stay with me.

I had almost come to the decision to give up my daily, er, tri-weekly, er, occasional blogs. My granddaughter, Gabby, informed me that it was a poor decision since people all over the world read my blog. She makes me chuckle. Oh, my what would my readers do:)

I informed her that my readers are probably tired of my conversations. I'm not sure that anyone would really care. "I would, Grammy," she said. "I read your blog."

"You do not," I replied with a grin on my face.

"I do, too," she replied with a serious look glued to her face. And, a lovely face it is.

She began telling me about the things I had written. Well, my goodness, she does read it! Hence, the blog shall continue. Even if Gabby is my only reader, she is worth the words.

As I have said, sometimes the well is dry. Sometimes days are hectic. Yet eventually I find my way back to A Grandparent's Voice and Neff Road. I hope you find your way here, too, once in awhile just to see if you might like to join the journey. For this blog is for those who care.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strike a Pose

They posed and giggled. The sun wasn't right so we moved to a new location. Boredom seemed to be absent. The day was cool but lovely. Best of all, my granddaughters came to visit.

Whenever I want to take a picture, my camera seems to be absent. Or, more than likely, I get so involved that I forget to take pictures. Its like that thing where you have a bizillion pictures of your first child and fewer and fewer of additional children. It takes time to take pictures. It seems to me that maybe it takes a bit of planning as well.

In my writing, I have found photographs old and new are important. Written word can be lovely, but add a picture and you have an audience. Sometimes the picture alone is the story. We cannot hold on to the past when our babies were small or remember the moments when we were young. We can't hold on to those fingerprints on the door and the newness of our baby's toes. Pictures capture and hold. They imprint an event and carry it on to other generations.

I spent yesterday taking photos of my granddaughters. They are at an age to love the camera and want to see themselves as soon as the photo is taken. Digital is wonderful. I can sort pictures as I take them ditching those of inferior quality and taking in what I need to adjust for the next photo. The time taking the pictures was fun. We laughed at our failures, oohing and aahing over the successes. I pushed Gabby up into the ancient maple tree praying that the light would be right.

Sydney is at an age where I can see the woman she will become. A new teenager finding her way into adulthood. The pictures tell it all. Sophistication and grace apparent. Something she doesn't understand yet. For Gabby, it was that reflection of the little girl stepping towards middle school leaving the little kid stuff behind.

The finished work is a gift to the future. It will show the love expressed by a grandma for her granddaughters. A memory has been captured and will be cherished. It is a gift I give to the girls, their mother and their future generations.

The camera captures nothing when left behind.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'll Never be an Edison

"How about a filter for a fan?" I asked my friend. "I'm sick and tired of cleaning fans each fall."

"Good idea. Check it out," said my son and my friend, Paulette.

"I've got it! How about a pull out shelf that fits below the cabinets for short people!"

"So how will it work?"

"I don't know. I just have the idea.....and the want it for me."

"How about ........"

Same responses.

I consider myself the think tank. I come up with the best ideas ever! I don't know how to make them happen. I just want someone to put my ideas into action. I come up with a new idea at least once a month. And....get the same responses. Darn it.

Maybe my ideas are not true inventions. My ideas are re-inventions. I am finding better ways to make my life easier. I'm short. I notice a lot things that could help short people. I have great ideas. Ah. What can I do? I don't know why I mention my wonderful new ideas. I get the same responses each time. I don't know how to build a better dog house, but I have ideas to improve one. If I did invent something, everyone would want to help me and cash in on the good fortune I would find. Sigh.

I'll never be an Edison. The light bulb that goes on in my head never seems to stay lit. Perhaps I'm just meant to be a thinker.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beneath the Arbor

We sat beneath the trees. The sun shining, spring flowers blooming, birds singing and mimosas in hand. Once in awhile someone would yell squirrel, and Millie would bound across the yard in pursuit. It was a perfect Mother's Day.

Judi, my son's mother-in-law, and I were basking in the time we had with our grown children. I've often tried to explain to my children how much a parent loves them no matter what their age. In fact, the adult child has more years of this love that grows even deeper over time.

We await the twins. The parents full of anticipation of the unknown. Two mothers who remember their pregnancies and births. Two parents full of rules for the new babies, er, mothers. And mothers who wish they had thrown away Dr. Spock. Two parents wanting a normal life. And two mothers knowing that life will be more wonderful than they can imagine. A love came to us in a warm bundle and grew much too quickly into an adult. If only we could give them the knowledge we have now.

I guess we aren't meant to know and understand what lies ahead. We make that journey on our own. I didn't know how to ask for help. I didn't want help. I didn't know what I would miss, because I was so busy moving forward. How I wish I had had the chance to video my babies. How I wish I had taken the time to record their words and actions. How I wish I had relaxed and just taken it all in. Maybe that's what grandparenting is all about, taking it all in and jogging those memories we have forgotten. Perhaps it is about that calming we can give when the stress of crying babies and dirty diapers seems overwhelming. Perhaps it is about the sweet memories we collect at this later time in our lives. Those that keep us warm as our bodies move on to an older age. Perhaps it is the gift of understanding we can give the new parents. Most of all, it is about the love we can give.

We sat beneath the trees sipping mimosas, talking around the beautiful floral bouquets our children had given each of us. Millie wanted to chew on the flowers. It wasn't a surprise. Earlier she tried to eat my scrambled eggs. It was a beautiful day beneath the arbor.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just Like a Mom

What constitutes a mother? I've learned in my lifetime that she is certainly more than a woman who gives birth. A mother, a good mother, is one who gives and forgets about the receiving. She is one who steps up when needed, heedless of her own needs. A mother is a woman who finds contentment in just watching her children, even when they sleep. Sitting with them over a cup of coffee just glad to be there with them. A mother thinks first of the love she has for her child and secondly of the finger paint on the wall. When once she sighed at the sight of a room strewn with clothing, she later wishes for that teenager to be in that room once more. She doesn't forget the little thing, those that matter. And forever she holds in her heart her baby's tiny fingers and toes.

A mother, however, doesn't need to be one who gives birth. She doesn't need to be the one who even lives in the house with the child. The heart of a mother resides for the child often in the heart of a friend, an aunt, a cousin, a grandmother. What sometimes we did not receive from own flesh and blood we found plentiful in the love of another. A mother who holds a child for the first time, that child she did not carry, finds a new love given to her. There need not be an umbilical cord that says she is the mother. She loves the child the same as if she gave birth to the beautiful babe in her arms.

I was blessed with many mothers in my life. My mother and I didn't always see eye to eye. She was a busy woman living on the farm. Often I was left alone. Sometimes I was scared. Many times for her I was a struggle. Communication between mother and daughter often is strained and damaged. But then one day we are without a mother. One day we are older and understand what we could not then. I find in looking back that the gaps my mother and I experienced in our relationship were filled by other loving women in my life.

Aunt Welma and I baked cookies together. She allowed me to be her hair stylist and taught me to play cards. While my mother was in the field, she was filling in a gap. Her daughter-in-law, my cousin Betty, was my friend, especially when a teenager needed a woman's advice. My neighbors, Doris and Margaret, watched over me daily, especially when I'm sure Mom had no idea where I'd wandered off to. Margaret raised me with her own. Her house was my second home.

When I became a teenager and in love, I met Jennie Miller. This last week we lost Jennie at ninety-four years. I loved her son, and she loved me. I'd never been in a family where everyone laughed so readily and loved doing things together. I learned what it was to camp and hike.  I found a place where I belonged. Jennie held me as her son left for Viet Nam. Their home during that time always welcomed me. When I started my first job, she made my dresses.

I have a dear mother in my life now. One I wish I'd known better my entire life for she is indeed a woman I love and adore. My cousin Alma Lea and I became better acquainted over the last couple of years. Oh, we always knew one another, but she was older, and I played with her children. In the last couple of years, we have formed a bond that means as much to me as any. This beautiful woman has brought  warmth to a sometimes saddened heart, one missing those of her own family. She brings to me all the things that are a mom and a friend.

My mom was indeed a wonderful mom. Her life was hard. She gave it to serve others. Sometimes her daughters got lost with all of the others taking their mom away, but she loved us. She is indeed 'like a mom' to so many people on Neff Road and around the world. She gave all that she had for others. As a grown up child, I appreciate what she did and am proud of what she did for those who needed her. I blessed to have had such a wonderful mother.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there. Mothers can indeed change the world. Those 'just like a moms' changed mine and taught me how to be just like a mom.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finding Your Groove

Lost your groove? I don't think so. Never had a groove? Impossible.

I'm a mixed bag when it comes to 'groove finding'. Even as a child, I knew what I loved to do. There were things I wanted added to my life, but they were not always part of that nature I knew I possessed. Finding my groove began early and arrived late.

As a child I danced around the playroom. I'd had no formal dance lessons, but I knew how to move. I could dance all day and never stop. On top of that, I had an imagination that soared. I made up stories and created my own entertainment. I was born with everything I needed and that was needed of me to make my world and the world around me better.

In growing up, I seemed to be molded by my environment, by what others expected of me, by what I perceived as perfection. It confused me, sometimes angered me and often left me feeling inadequate. I had forgotten how it was to dance across the room and let the music fill me to overflowing. What I had known when I was a small child was lost and no one noticed or cared that it was missing.

We all get tied up with life. We travel a path trying to find what we believe instead of what our parents believed. We struggle to express ourselves without upsetting someone else. We learn survival skills. Throughout my life, I made mistakes. Some were gigantic. All were learning experiences. And many were just bumps in the road. Each took me to a new place. Or was it an old place that I had misplaced?

My children were raised. I was on my own for the first time in my forties. In my thirties, I had found my way into the arts once more. I found parts of myself that were lost and some that I didn't know existed. But after my divorce, I was forced to just survive on my own. Then I had grandchildren.

I didn't know I could draw. For some silly reason, I decided to teach my granddaughters to draw. I didn't doubt my skill. It just seemed like I could do it. And I did. We learned drawing and painting together. I had put off my writing, until one day I knew I had to do it. I wanted my granddaughters to know who I was and what I could do. Then we danced. I taught my granddaughters to listen to music, to let it fill their bodies and then to express it. There was no right or wrong. I had found my groove. I wanted them to find theirs.

We use so little of the grey matter in our heads. We can do so much more than we can imagine. So why not take steps to try something that sings to you? Why not try something that makes you smile when you think of it? Those are the messages. This is the voice of the inner self.

Find your groove. I think you'll like it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

When I am

When I am older, I will still feel same
Answer when someone calls my name
I'll still be silly and act like a loon
Dance in the starlight throwing kisses to the moon.

I'll carry my book and sit for a read
My knee I will offer to a tot in need
A golden oldie, I'll be till the end
And thank the dear Lord for family and friend.

When I am older, I'll say, "Job well done."
Then I'll sit by the window watching the passing of the sun
Nature will carry me on still the same
And then, too, I'll know when it calls my name.

When I am

I wonder how long it is until I need to add the 'er'. Today I spent a good part of the morning in the bookstore. I perused the shelves of the children's books looking for my favorite writers and illustrators. Don and Audrey Woods, David Weisner, Jan Brett, Mem Fox, Penny Dale. I could go on, but you get the point. I'm drawn to the artwork and the simple stories said so beautifully....sometimes even without words. I plan to get a book bag then each time I go to visit the newborns twins (once they get here) I will take a book or two. We need to start reading together early, you know.

The reality of when I am old  dawned on me while walking the bookstore, sitting on the floor revisiting "Flotsam", finding a beautiful new version of "The Lion and The Mouse". I am setting in place now the way my grandchildren will view me.....when Grammy is considered old. What do I want that vision to be?

My mother set down many a guideline for other mothers and memories for her many 'honorary' grandchildren. She wasn't afraid to act silly with the kids. Her house was theirs whenever they walked into the kitchen. She hung their pictures and sang songs to them. When she grew old, the music she had created in her lifetime was rich and full of memory.

My children are trying to help me grow up. I'm afraid it is impossible. When I am 'er' I will still carry my book bag. Perhaps a child will need to read one of our old favorites to me. I will sit quietly smiling as each word is read with a hand resting on my grandchild. I will hum to myself for the joy in my life. My children will shake their heads thinking I am at last losing it. I will sit smiling by the window and count the blessings of my life. Perhaps someone will ask me, "What's so funny, Grams?" Each line that now graces my face and the white of my hair reminds me of the precious time I have with my family, especially before I get to "er".

Yes, when I am, I will see the sunset and rise again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not in the Genes

An excuse. An excuse I don't accept. No, I just don't get it.

The Loxley temper has been an excuse for way to long. I state here and now that it is not an excuse. So then you put the Loxley temper with the Drake temper. I state here and now that it is still not an excuse.

I grew up with a grandfather and father who had terrible tempers. They sprang up quickly and did a great deal of damage before the intensity faded. Now that I think about it, it is a lot like a tornado. Comes from out of nowhere, wreaks havoc, destroys anything in its wake, then off it dissipates into a cloud. I knew the wrath of that temper. I saw it in my siblings and later in my children. I saw it in me. Children learn by what they witness.

When my children were young, I had a terrible temper. No one ever told me that there was another way to handle things, such as talking, giving myself some space, finding ways to diffuse this thing that had control over me. My divorce and life thereafter taught me a great deal about survival and change. For most of my life, I had heard that the temper explodes, because it was a family trait. I was sure I came by it naturally. What a cop out! What a lame excuse for something that does nothing but cause pain. It reigns right up there with 'poor me'. Well, folks there is such a thing as change. An opportunity to grow up and learn.

My granddaughter was battling this same type of anger. She would go off on a tangent fighting anyone who tried to talk to her. She and I had a long talk about anger. We talked about ways to handle it. It didn't mean it would go away, that feeling of losing control, but she had a choice of either giving in to it or walking away from it. Sometimes it meant walking away from the source of the anger in order to be healthy. As Sydney learned to gain control, she learned to go off and find her cool in her room. She learned that she needed time to find her space and that it wasn't always easy to walk into a room of people once she had gone away to 'cool down'. Her sister learned from her sister's experience. She learned that words hurt even sometimes when it felt good to say them. It was a lesson for all of us in working together to understand anger. We learned a bit more about communicating.

We can change. I don't get angry any more. I choose to walk away from a battle for, in truth, no one wins those types of battles. I know that I have a choice to stay in a situation that infuriates me, or I can walk away from the irritation. Sometimes we walk away for good.

Anger is not in the genes. Anger is a selfish choice. It is the child still saying, "I want my way." I for one think it is a waste of good energy that can be placed elsewhere. Nah, it's not in the genes.