Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Sea of White and Grey

The audience was a packed crowd. I sat about three-fourths of the way up looking down over layers of seats below me. It was a sea of white and grey. The theatre people refer to it as an audience of grey hairs, i.e., elderly. The topic became a conversation between me and myself. We both seemed to come to the same conclusions.

Seniors get a discount. Also, many have the financial wherewithal as well as time to attend plays and concerts. There is one other piece. I believe that we just might get a bit more out of plays than what we did at a younger age. I know that I, as one grey/white hair, take in much more than I did when I was younger. I'm much more aware of the acting as well as the staging. Many plays are old and have been staged again and again. I love to see what the director does with an older piece. I enjoy the stage much more than a television screen or a movie. (However, I cannot wait for the Hobbit and Les Miserables out this Christmas.)  An orchestra, a brilliant painting, oh, how I apprecite them more.

In noticing the grey and white heads of hair, I am also aware of the lack of other colors. They are interspersed but definitely in the minority. There is also a lack of older children missing at those shows that are appropriate yet more adult than childrens' theatre. Thank God for the adults who do take the children to museums, plays, art exhibits and concerts. I for one, if I could, would take my grandchildren to all of the aforementioned as much as possible. The gifts I give my grandchildren come back to me twofold.

A sea of white and grey.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Heart the Mediator

Frantically, she talked on the phone. I stood at the baby clothes' sale rack and couldn't ignore her sobs. In my head I had this conversation.

"Should I ask if I can help?"
"Better stay out of it."
"But she is so sad. Her cry is heartbreaking."
"Look at her! She is doesn't look so good!"
"Well, you don't know anything. I'm going to talk to her."

Well, I don't know if both sides of your brain often argue, but mine do it quite often. The mediator is usually my heart. The woman got off of her phone and started to walk past me.

"Are you okay?" I asked. Well, that certainly brought on dialogue as well as tears.

"I just got out of drug rehab today. I'm clean. I went home to see my kitty. My neighbor is watching her. She didn't take care of her. My sweet kitty was only skin pulled over bones. I just took her to the vet. My kitty is my life," she sobbed as the words poured out.

My work with kids at risk kicked in. "I'm so proud of you for making it through rehab. Good for you."

I went on to ask if her cat could be saved. She didn't think so. I tried to explain that maybe if they did actually put her kitty to sleep, she could get a kitten to start her new life over. I tried not to lose sight of the success this poor woman had with her struggle with drugs.
My farm kitties

"It's my fault. If I didn't go to rehab, my kitty would be okay."

"You are not responsible for this terrible thing your neighbor did. You did nothing but love your kitty. You owe it to your kitty to stay clean."

Her phone rang. She thanked me, and I walked away with one last word, "Please stay clean."

Walk away. How often do we walk away? I know that talking to strangers is a big 'no-no', yet I can not turn away from someone in pain. I never have and never will. I don't know if I helped this woman, but she was being tested in the worse way. Raw from rehab she was trying to make sense of this tragedy. I know that sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger. I don't claim to have answers; experience has taught me that I cannot be the answer, but I can be of support.

I'm adding this woman to my Care List in the right column. This woman along with others who decide to fight against addiction need all the support they can get....even from those they don't know.

She stood sobbing. I could not walk away.

Friday, September 14, 2012

They Belong to Their Parents

They are not ours. Oh, they belong to our family tree now, and they are our grandchildren; however, they are not ours. They belong to their parents.

I find my relationship different this time around with the new babies. Not bad. Just different. With my daughter who was younger when she had her children, I was quite involved in how to raise babies. It was like getting back in the saddle again and learning to feel at ease once more. My daughter and I had a closeness over those babies that was very special. Maybe it is that process of watching your own child go through the process of pregnancy. Her pregnancy was difficult. We spent much time together at the hospital and doctor's office. Knowing my daughter was going through birth was a very tense time. She was my baby.

With a daughter-in-law and her family, it is a time of trying to feel my way into my place in all of this. Often I feel like an intruder. I feel much closer to my daughter-in-law with a relationship that grows with each passing day. Yet so often I feel on the outside. It is my problem. Not theirs. I am missing my granddaughters and their relationship with their cousins they have only seen once. I am missing my family.

In all of this, I ask myself what I really feel about the situation. I love my son dearly. He has been one of my best friends. I struggle watching him struggle with crying babies and the times he feels helpless. He was a colicky baby, so I do understand. Yet with older parents I find that my place is different than that with my daughter who had babies in her 20's.

Things I adhere to:

1.    My son and his wife are in charge of the babies.
2.   Their way of raising a child might be different from mine, but I have a responsibility to follow their lead.
3.    I am there to help them. Not to take over.
4.    I should not shoulder all of the responsibility of the house, because it is again their responsibility and their home. Life will be normal one day.
5.    James is the father and Lisa the mother. I am there to encourage them with their children and not take over the children.
6.    The children have a routine. I need to do all I can to support that routine.
7.    I need to follow the rules and not play the grandma card when I watch the babies.
8.    I am a parent of a parent. My son needs me to support him in learning about his children. He and Lisa are the doers. I'm on the sidelines waiting for the team to need me. If babies cry.....parents are on the first line of defense.
9.    I need to keep my mouth shut if I get frustrated and to be the peacemaker not the problem solver.
10.  I need to leave me outside the door when I visit and find joy in watching them become parents.

It is different scenario this time. I love Lisa and James and watching them grow into the role of parent. I think maybe I understand the grandma sitting in her rocker watching the family. I think perhaps she sits watching as the family she started grows into a family of their own. Perhaps that is really what grandparenting is all about. We pick up where needed, especially those raising their grandchildren. We are the Red Cross of parenthood. We do what is necessary to keep our family protected. We also step aside when the young family is learning. We hand over the present and the future to these young parents having done our job with our own families. Now we get to hold babies and give our grandchildren all that we can to help them grow into loving, caring adults.

Isn't it nice that we are never too old to change and to learn. I celebrate you grandparents who are learning along with your children. Good for you.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I Stand With You

I know there are many grandparents raising their grandchildren and those who cannot see their grandchildren because of family estrangement. Your notes do not go unnoticed. And....I am one of you.

The fragility of childhood. Children who have no voice are placed in situations which they do not understand. Situations that we often don't understand. I sometimes ask myself what I did wrong. I answer, "I did the best I could." So why do the children suffer from loss of parents and all too often loss of grandparents? What fuels such actions that our children either walk away from their responsibilities or use their children to hurt their others? Each child walks his or her own path. "I did the best I could."

There is something that happens when we get 'older'. At least I have learned that other women and men have grown into this golden age much the same. We learn that hate and anger do nothing but destroy. We learn from the loss of loved ones what it is to cherish those we love. As grandparents, we know that we can still teach our grandchildren what love and respect look like. We can teach them our history and show them ways of peace and understanding. We learn to forgive, and we learn to be patient. We bear the anger or separation of our children as well as we can despite the deep hurt we feel. We revels in the happy times.

"Some day the girls will understand," my friend tells me. "They will always know that you are a loving person who would never use them or hurt them. They will make the decision to see you."

In the meantime, I miss them terribly.

I don't understand people walking away from their kids or using them to punish someone else. I don't understand bitterness that people cling to instead of finding help and hope in their lives. I don't understand any parent walking away from their child, their family. I know that many of you are hurting. I know that you carry burdens that you thought were long gone but are now revisited. Just know that you are not alone.

The best gift we can give to our grandchildren is a love that doesn't change regardless of everything that is thrown at it. A love that will be there when they know they can come on their own to find it. Yes, there will be a time when our grandchildren know that they can make their own decisions. A time when they learn that not everything in their lives is as it seems. A time they will understand your loving care.

I stand with you, grandparents, in this life we did not expect in our later years. We stay steadfast waiting patiently, doing whatever we can, because it is what we must do. We keep our hearts open wishing only the best for our children, for help for our children. We cherish the grandchildren we love deeply.

I stand with you.....and pray for better world.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick

Hm. I wonder how many people know all the words to the chorus of "School Day"? Hm. I wonder why I know all of the words. I have a feeling that my mother sang them to us over enough years for us to know them by heart. "School Days". A song full of words that my grandchildren will not understand.The last line of that phrase is well outdated. Of course, "Taught to the tune of an understanding teacher who cannot deliver a spanking" does not rhyme. It was the way of it back in 1907 when Will D. Cobb put the words to the music by Gus Edwards.

There was a time when going to school was a privilege. Children walked miles to get to a little one-room school house. School hours were arranged so farm kids could do their chores at home then go to school. Summer months were necessary for the children to help with crops and summer chores of garden tending, canning, candle and soap making. There was a time when communities cared about having a place of education for even a few children.

Schools now are overcrowded and seem to be more political then concerned about each child's success. Teachers are underpaid and overworked. School is nothing like it used to be. My granddaughter learned quantum math in the fourth grade. My other granddaughter is an Arts, Communication and Music Academy which is part of our school district. I love that instead of one big school, our district offers smaller magnet schools in medical careers, the arts, an environmental school, a language school and a science school. What a fantastic way to educate children! Yet the schools are always struggling for money. That is one thing that has not changed from the days when I was young. Who will fight for the education of children?

I think I miss that one room school house that focused on learning. A school where someone went to get wood for the wood stove and drank from the well. A time when education was a privilege and a community learned the importance of readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic. I love that many high schoolers take some of their classes at the college so they can graduate and already have college credits under their belts. I am willing to fight for the privilege these kids have in their schools. Changes come because parents care. They cared then. They care now.

You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, "I love you, Joe"
When we were a couple of kids.