Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Timeless Carol

His name was Ebenezer Scrooge. A man wrapped up in his own life and possessiveness of all he owned. Suffering of others meant nothing to him. He not only lacked the Christmas spirit but also lacked the ability to love. Charles Dickens had it right. Whether he knew it or not, his story was not only about those times he lived in but for all time after.

In 1843 Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, the most successful book of that holiday season. It had sold six thousand copies into the new year. This was in 1843! Since then thousands of theatrical productions, film adaptations, radio presentations, recordings, operas, bilingual editions, graphic novels and parodies have brought Scrooge's life into the lives of everyone.

This miser lacked concern for man and womankind. A boy who suffered as a child, his heart hardened. Put the poor in the poorhouse. Let those who are suffering die. Harsh, the harshest words. Closing doors that the heart should open. I believe these ghosts visit us all. They are all around us asking us to embrace humankind, to change, to make lives better for all. And, in the end if we do not listen, that big nasty ghost comes to visit, asking us what good we have done in our lives.

The message of A Christmas Carol took the reader past the season of goodwill. The change in Scrooge impacted his city, his family and the future.  As the ghost says, "It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men, and travel far and wide; and, if the spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death."

My favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the musical Scrooge starring Albert Finney. The music of the 1970's adaptation is so beautifully written and haunts you long after you have watched the film. I am sure Mr. Dickens would love it as much as me.

The season is upon us. Dickens is once more invited into my home to inspire me and to make me a better person. "I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book to raise the Ghost of an idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it down," said Dickens.

I say, "Thank you, Charles Dickens.....God bless us everyone."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Tattered Pattern revisited

Many of you have asked for the pattern of these stocking shown in my post The Tattered Pattern, a pattern from long ago that no longer exists. In fact, mine is in such tatters that it is impossible to make a decent copy. Part of the pattern has disappeared during my move. This said, for those hoping to copy the pattern, you can enlarge the pictures I have posted and actually count the stitches for the shape and sizes you require.

If you have not done needlepoint in the past, I would suggest that you research online or get a book from the library to check on how to set up your piece of canvas.

The first picture in this blog is of the stockings I first made with a brand new pattern in around 1975. I made many after that but created my own patterns.

I hope this will help you as I understand the memories these stocking hold. I would recommend that you not put names directly onto the stockings. Instead make a tag that you can hang on the hanger with the stocking. By doing this, the stockings can be handed down again and again.

I apologize that I cannot help you with the pattern, but let your imagination run wild. Think of the blessings of the holidays and the person you are creating the stocking for then make a memory.

Monday, November 9, 2015

No regrets

It was going to be a long night. In fact, it was going to be a longer than normal night. Mommy and Daddy had gone to Seattle, and I had the twins until late that night. I learned a lesson long ago with my granddaughters. Maybe I learned it long before them. This night would certainly keep me rooted to what I believe.

We are all different. How's that for a deep thought! I fell into the norm as a young woman who first looked forward to a wedding then children. Who went seemed to thrive on being part of a social scene and flapping her wings at following her dreams. Then one day reality set in. A knowledge I had always had. A reality I had not yet tasted. I lost my parents.

I was approaching my sixties. My first grandchild had been born. I was twice divorced and learning to reinvent myself once more. Then the floor dropped out from under me. All the 'shouldas' hit me like an avalanche. I touched my mother cold brow and discovered an ache I didn't know I existed. I saw time wasted and time lost. There was much I wanted to tell her. Things I wanted to know. For the first time, I understood the words TOO LATE.

In just an instant, the word family was truly experienced. Time with that family became a priority. Looking at my own mortality shook me to my bones. Not because I would some day be a memory on a family tree, but because I knew that I wanted my children and my grandchildren to know what it was like to have a woman who knew her priorities and embraced them wholly. All the rest of life was just fluff.

So what did this all look like? Hm. Well, it looked like I needed to think less of me and be more creative and interactive. I learned to listen better and to observe. I found in this process that I did not lose what I had or lose myself. Instead, I found more creativity and wisdom that I didn't know I possessed. I found that the more I gave up, the more was added to me. My senses grew. The touch of child, the smell of rose, a hand on a fevered brow. There was a new awareness to life. I gave up preconceived notions and tried to be more open-minded. New thoughts and ideas were allowed to take wing and fly. I was not going to go through the rest of my life finding only regret at the end.

My grandkids wear me out. There are times I want to say no to babysitting, but deep down I know that an opportunity missed may not be repeated. I know that the little girls who first graced our family grew up much too quickly. I do not want to miss a bit of this life with my family. Do I lose myself in all this? Not on your life. I am given a vacation, a journey into new lands and success in my career with every moment we share together. I am the student as well as the teacher. Yes, it was indeed a long night.

"MeMe, my throat hurts." Nolan said. "My back really hurts, too."

I made a bed on the sofa giving him a tucktuck. Emma bounced around the room and Millie, the dog, insisted on being a pest. Not long after, Nolan threw up. Now we all know that the shock and distress after such an experience that leaves a sick child and adult both in a momentary panic. When my own children were little, I had to send them into the bathroom to be ill alone, because I would get sick right along with them if I didn't. With a grandchild age three, I had no choice but to take charge. After cleanup, I tucked him into bed. Emma worried over her brother and was happy to be tucktucked as well. With pan next to bed, I was prepared. In fact, I was so prepared, I got pan for Emma as well....just in case. And, just in case happened. For at least 20 minutes, I scrambled from bed to bed.

Sitting between their beds after they were finally asleep, I contemplated all that had happened. I was given an opportunity to serve my grandchildren. These little people knew that I would be there for them, holding them, cleaning them up, singing them to sleep. They knew that I would stay with them. They could open their eyes and see me at any given moment. Nolan woke from a night terror. I wrapped him up in my arms and held his shaking body.  "It's okay, sweet boy. MeMe's here."

No regrets.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Grandparent's Voice for Peace

We are the teachers, the historians, the keepers of family secrets, the movers and shakers. Okay, some of you are shaking your heads saying, "You've got to be kidding." Well, no, I'm not kidding. Those of us who have lived these many years are a gift to the world. Everyone always says the youth are the future. People, we have such an influence on the future. We have the tools and knowledge to change the days of our lives. Opportunities abound. We are the future.

Having eighteen years of being cared for, forty-three years of learning the ins and outs of parenting and almost seventeen years of grandparenting, I feel that I have credentials that show my depth of experience. I am a power within myself. A power to change the world and make my own dent in creating peace.

Those of you who follow me know how I feel about my grandchildren and my opportunity to teach them humility and understanding through games and play. As teens, my granddaughters and I share deeper conversations. I know that soon they will be on their own and an old grandma could be forgotten. Well, I will not be forgotten. My job is not finished.

We have a responsibility to ourselves. Why should we just fade away into the corner of the room rocking away in the old rocker and waiting for someone to bring us a cup of tea? We should want to spread our wings before we head to that rocker. We want to travel, to live in new places, to create. Well, that is fantastic. Just do not forget that you have the ability to change the world while you do it. You might be away from your family, but your impact is just as important and strong as for those of us who live nearby.

No matter what our ages we are an example; we influence those around us. Everywhere we go, every contact we make, we can change the world. It is so easy at this age, in looking to coming years, to feel sorry for ourselves or maybe even be a bit afraid. People, take that energy and turn it around. We are so fortunate to have the years we have had. We are blessed to be able to get up in the morning and have a new beginning day after day after day.

In my working experience during the last many years, I have made an effort to look into the eyes of everyone I meet and hope that they know that I see them as fellow traveler and friend in this world. I watch the news and want so desperately for those in pain to know that I am here and care deeply what happens to them. I know it works. IT WORKS!

WE are the future, an energy in this world. WE are a voice for peace, acceptance, change. WE can spread love and understanding. Oh, dear people, grab hold of this world and embrace it. Find love within yourself that spreads to others. Be willing to change for the good of all people. Be willing to give up all you know to learn more.

Yes, we are the grandparents with a voice for peace. Come on, let's change the world.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Grandma wears tennis shoes

She wore a dress and apron most of her life as did mothers before her. She had one Sunday dress that had seen many a Sunday. Under that Sunday dress she wore a girdle. Her life was not easy and fashion and comfort were not her choice. There were standards to be upheld.

I remember when Mom finally got her first pair of pants with an elastic waist. In fact, I think she probably wore them until they were mere tatters. The apron had disappeared as well as that nasty girdle. Mom found freedom to dress as she liked breaking away from tradition.

When we girls were growing up, we were held tight to that earlier way of thinking. Girdles and garter belts. Dresses or skirts. Pants could be worn under our skirts on cold days at school. For a little farm girl, I thought being a boy might have more least in clothing line. I remember well wearing sack dresses and chemise dresses to junior high school. Keds seemed to top off the glam. We wore hose or bobby socks. As little kids, we crawled on monkey bars and swung high on swings. No one cared that the dresses flew up over our noses. No one would even consider that pants might be more appropriate.

Then it happened!!! Free at last!!! Random garters in the junk drawers disappeared. Girdles were buried deep in the back forty. Aprons were put away along with the doilies. Even our permed hair became soft and natural. At last, women had found their time. A time of freedom we had not experienced before. In some ways, I feel that the day we slipped into our jeans and baggy shirts, we discovered a new part of ourselves.

"MeMe, you have on my shoes," said Emma when I walked into the house.

When the twins come to my house, they invade my closet trying on my shoes. Nolan quickly loses interest going for the cars and trains. Emma on the other hand takes her time trying on several pair. My bright blue and checkered tennis shoes are her favorite. We seem to have similar taste. She might only be three, but already she is sharing MeMe's wardrobe. My older granddaughters often nab one of my sweaters when they come over and are not ashamed to be in Grammy's jacket. I would never have been caught dead in my Mom's clothes although might have played in her heels when Brenda and I dressed up. I like that my girls find no generation gap in my closet.

Skinny jeans, crazy tennis shoes and a long sweater. My hair is natural, no makeup, comfy in my own style and the real me. I want my grandchildren to discover the real 'them'. It took many women and men to stand up for the rights of women. It took courage to step away from what was in place for generations. We learned to find our own voices, style and more than anything freedom to be who we are. I do not know what my grandchildren will wear in the decades to come. I really do not care. I hope they grow up knowing that they can change the world, they can be different, they can be themselves. I hope that they never judge others and stand up for those who are different.

Yes, grandma wears tennis shoes. They might be just shoes.....but I think they are a whole lot more.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Let there be peace on earth

Watching the Pope at the World Trade Center in an interfaith gathering. So many faiths coming together in a beautiful moment in time when we should realize that all faiths can live together. That we all want peace and love. That what befalls one befalls us all. The humanity of the world united. No walls. No borders. Only mankind supporting and loving one another.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Take a vow

Today is the last day of summer. So.....I'm making a vow. Today I will embrace every man, woman and child. I will not judge from my Anglo roots and will cheer each man and woman on. I will make a difference in a positive way. I have not had to risk all to save my family from violence. I have not had to flee from war, poverty, hate. I have not been persecuted for my religious belief. I was raised not to judge. I have no right to judge. If I truly live my faith, then I need to love all people. Today I will make a difference. I wonder what I will do when fall comes tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Case of the missing lap

Caller:  Officer, I would like to report a missing lap.
Officer: Lap, Mam?
Caller:  Yes, lap. My lap is missing.
Officer:  Er, well, Mam, ah...when did you notice it was missing?
Caller:  Well, it started a couple of years ago.
Officer:  Mam, I'm not sure we can help you with this?
Caller:  I certainly don't know why! If I was losing money in my bank account bit by bit, you would be right on it. I am losing my lap!

Yep, the older I get the more lap I lose. Well, I still have a lap but it is getting used less and less. My older granddaughters are in their teens. Sometimes they still try to sit on it. The twins are so busy being preschoolers that lap time is diminishing in importance. I am missing lap time.

I have a sweet picture of my mother holding my son when he was attending Northwestern. This young man sitting on my little mom is a beautiful thing to behold. He laughing and Mom's face is full of  pure joy. Maybe it is the mom instinct that we have built in that makes us want to embrace our children still trying to retain that feeling that began when they were newborn babies. Maybe it is the feeling of holding something that was part of us returning that piece of us back where it once belonged....even if only for a few moments.

Yesterday I sat on the floor playing with the three-year-olds. Emma draped across me wanted me to tickle her tummy. Nolan leaped on me wanting me give him attention. It was then that I noticed that my lap was not big enough. My old body was not as flexible or resilient as it had been with my older grandchildren. It was a struggle to stay in the moment and embrace what I had. I cherished what I had. The picture of mom and this son of mine flashed before my eyes, and I understood what Mom was feeling in those few seconds she embraced her grown grandson.

Life goes so quickly. More quickly when you have children in your life, where you can measure time by the size the child. Sometimes as a grandparent it is a struggle to keep up and to find that extra energy that was so readily available when you had your own children. I never understood how grandparents could be happy to send the kids home to their parents. I know that the moments I have with them are fleeting. I will not get them back again.

In being involved with grandkids, creativity is a must. And, it is a benefit to us in keeping us younger. Each time I go to see the little ones, I try to introduce them to something new. Graham Crackers have become MeMe's special sugar crackers. Glue and construction paper. Crayons and blank sheets of paper. Last week I took a book of kids' placemats to them. They were a hit. Mom and Dad can tear out a new sheet to take along to a restaurant. The kids pick out their favorite for each meal. Learning comes to the table. It takes time to be involved with grandchildren. Sometimes it even takes stepping back in time to introduce them to something that I played when I was a kid. My favorite activities are those where the kids crawl up onto my lap.

The lap is a poorly recognized. It offers comfort. A place to make boo-boos better. A warm spot to fall to sleep. A place of healing for an ailing child. A great place to sit when you read a book or watch a Daniel Tiger. A place where MeMe tickles toes and tummies. A lap that is a bit flatter with these sixty plus years. A lap that has a history of those kids who sat on it.

Santa's lap is very important and revered. I truly think my lap is just as important. My lap remembers the children who sat there.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Learning Kindness

"Now, we are going to play a new game," I explained to my granddaughters. They were preteens sitting in the car with their Grammy waiting for Mom to get off work. Sometimes boredom calls for desperate measures. With little ones, we give them a different toy or picture or even our cell phones to occupy their time. The older kids are a bit of a challenge.

I pulled the game out of my imagination. "We are going to find something nice about every person who walks by the car." We were sitting in front a strip of the mall housing the pharmacy, grocery, dollar store and liquor store. Quite a variety of people passed by. A good slice of humanity.

In retrospect, I wish I had been as conscious of my actions in raising my children. I was a mom who was dealing with a bad marriage, working and trying to stay afloat financially. In many ways, those years are a blur. They were hard times for me. I was not the best mom I could have been.

The beauty of grandchildren is that you take time to observe. You become more aware of yourself and those around you. You understand that life is short and very precious, so you'd better wake up and make a difference. When I did this 'waking up', I discovered the opportunities life had to offer. Those times when I could make a differences in each and every person I met just by passing on a kind word or a smile. Compassion goes a long way in creating a better world.

"I like her purse." "I like his watch." "Er, I lllliiikkkeee her, ah, eyes." Yes, sometimes the game was difficult. Humanity passed before our eyes. We saw it for what was on the outside and tried to look deeper for something that was positive and good in the inside. I had no idea how this game would work. When you are pulling randomly from your brain, you just hope it goes well.

This was just the beginning. We often waited for Mom. And, each time the girls asked to play the game. They picked out the parking place so we would be able to see as many people as possible. We watched life go by in front of the car and reached out with hope. We looked, truly looked, at these people. We looked past the dirt and shabbiness. We looked past color and race. We looked past the pain, sorrow, anger on their faces. It almost seemed that we looked deeper into those who needed to be seen and loved than we did those who seemed to have it all.

A lesson was learned. Kindness was taught. Compassion reigned. We grew closer in this challenge. Conversations occurred as we talked about the differences and struggles of man/womankind. Each of us hoped for the best for those people who passed this car of observers. We were in a bubble looking out with eyes that saw beauty instead of judgment. We sent out thoughts of love and well-being. We grew as we looked at the faces and untold stories. We sat in the car, the older generation and the younger, learning more about ourselves and learning to love.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I made it

My legs ached, my back ached and the sweat was dripping off my forehead. I couldn't give up. I knew I could make it if I tried. It was an uphill battle, but one I that had to be done. Determination and dedication was the only thing that pulled me through. I made it. Thank God, I made it.

Yep, that's the way I feel many time when babysitting the twins, age 3. At times there are other things I would rather be doing. I don't want to sit on the floor. I don't want to take a walk in the sweltering weather. I'm tired of picking up toys and wiping butts. Some days I find it difficult to be fun and to find that little bit of energy that must be hiding somewhere in this old body.

Grandma. A name that gave me a choice. I could be a grandma who looks forward to the parents picking up the kids. Not that its wrong to be that grandma, but I made a conscious decision to be more than that. I wanted my grandkids to know that being their Grammy or MeMe didn't mean old. Those sweet titles mean full of life and creativity, energy and endurance, unwavering love. When the twins were born, it had been ten years since my last grand baby. Now were had two infants. The energy I felt back then was missing. So, I decided not think about the aches and creaks in my bones. I decided to enjoy and love and fly by the seat of my pants.

One of the dearest compliments I received from a grandchild was when Gabby said, "I want to be a grandma like you someday." I wanted to have a grandma like me way back when.

We are what we allow ourselves to be. I found that in my efforts to keep up, I was stronger. In my tolerance, I was wiser. In my involvement, I grew in all ways.  For me there is no better way to spend time. I hope that I give to my grandchildren as much as they give to me. Being a grandma has been the greatest gift of all. Being the grandma that I am today means I made it.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Enjoy the journey

She decided to write her history. She began writing it in her early 80's. The first journal was sent to me, her keeper of the past. The second was never finished.

Mom. She was quite a character. Her journals verify the fact. She could tell a story like no other, leaving us wondering at times if she told the story as it happened or embellished it to make it even juicier. Either way, her journals are treasures.

Mom passed before she could begin the second journal. As she wrote, one memory would trigger a dozen others. Priceless. Her words are priceless.

There is a journal inside of each of us. Mine comes in the form of a blog. A blog. A history. Something that perhaps my family will read when I am beyond words. A gift.

I am often asked how I do it? Well, you just write. There is no need to think about it. Just let the words flow, using the voice you hear in your head. That is the voice that knows what you want to say and releases you to say it. As you write, the words will unfold and multiply. What began with perhaps a bit of a struggle will turn into a joy.

Our heads are all full of words. Some are sad. Some are happy. Some are even confusing. When allowed exposure, they give you new perspective. Perhaps that is how wisdom is born. I found that when I began to write, I began to find more parts of myself. I became less afraid to expose that inner part of me and my world.

Old, young, in middle age? It doesn't matter. Your story is your own. Your story is mine, and mine is yours. Ours intertwine and expand. We are after all joined in our humanity. Perhaps in that joined humanity we will find peace and better understanding.

Maybe you want to keep your words for yourself. No problem. They are your words. Begin today and enjoy your journey.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Just call me grandma

The last of my grandchildren turned three yesterday. The last of them. I have four grandchildren. My children will have no more babies. I remember when my daughter came to tell me that she was pregnant with Sydney, the first. The news frightened me. My daughter and her husband lived on a shoestring. They were young and just starting out. They lived in a low income apartment and now were expecting my first grandchild.

It's amazing the way we change into this new role of grandparent that comes to us not by choosing but by an unexpected announcement. I hadn't really thought to be a grandma. I was having a career and dating. Not my typical vision of a grandma. I wasn't ready for diapers and babysitting. I wasn't ready to be called Grandma.

But we don't get that choice do we? I didn't get a chance to say, "I'm not ready yet." In the matter of moments I aged. I didn't know what to say. My daughter was upset that I wasn't overjoyed. My stomach hurt, and I was truly filled with worry for all of us.

Well, that a little over sixteen years ago. I grew into the role. It happened when I saw Sydney born. As with the Grinch, my heart had grown that day. Then came Gabby. Such a joy and a delight. I was content and thrilled to have so much time with them. James took a long time with career and travel and finding that right woman. Now the twins are three. There will be no more grandchildren. This is the end of the line. Hopefully, it will be a few years until I'm greeted with the next announcement. 

Yesterday we celebrated twins birthdays. They are no longer babies. Independent little spirits, they entertain and continually wrap my heart around their little fingers. I realize that the future will bring many more changes. These children grow so quickly. So quickly that I barely have time to capture it all.

For those of us who are grandparents, we are truly blessed. We have been given a gift beyond anything we could possibly have imagined. The fears we might have felt along the way have taken a backseat to the immense joy we have been given. I have been a daughter, a wife, a mother and a grandma in my lifetime. I have been niece, cousin, granddaughter, sister, aunt and even great aunt. There is none greater or more powerful than Grammy or MeMe. It is during this time that I have learned more about love and understanding. A time when I have learned more about compassion and foregiveness. My grandchildren love me with all my weaknesses and failings. They tell me every day by reaching out to hold my hand or as my teenagers do, they still lay their heads in my lap wanting their grandma to stroke their brows. The little ones grab my hand and take me to their next adventure. They embrace me, not because they have to, but because they love me.

Just call me grandma.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let the journey begin

One day my boobs are nice and firm then the next, they empty shells. What happened? One day I have a thick head of hair then the next, my hair is thin. One day I have muscles, then the next, oops, their gone. The list goes on and on. It began when I was about sixty-three. I began to notice the subtle changes in my body. A little bit of panic came along with the realization. Who was this woman? Who took the other woman away?

Aging. It is a sneaky devil. It creeps up on you when you least expect it. About eight years ago, I was dating and had a fairly good body. My energy level was good and my memory great. So what happened in those next few years? Why wasn't I warned!!!

My parents aged. I saw the changes and was struck at that point as were my sisters as to 'what to do with them when they can no longer care for themselves'. My granddaughter told me that her mom and step-aunt were talking about who would get what of Grandpa's things when he died. It isn't a rare conversation. All of us have thought about it and talked to our siblings about it. We look to the passing of the older generation and all it encompasses. Then one day we wake up, and we are the older generation.

I have always maintained that we are ageless. The numbers should all be tossed away, and we just interact with all ages. I am thrilled that I have friends of all ages and have since I was a kid. Now I am on the backside of those ages. I have gone from Mom to Grammy/MeMe to Great Aunt Pam. Wow! Did I miss most of my life? My mother said to me in one of our last visit, "Pam, it all went so fast." I am not sure that fast even begins to cover the lightening speed at which we travel through our lives.

Illness, change in way of life, death. they are all things we do not talk about but think about. It is the inevitability that we cannot avoid. We are past the time of our own planning for our futures. Those wonderful days of weddings, babies and future homes. There is a fear I find at this age. A fear of the unknown. My sister and I often talk about this time in our lives. I love that I have her. We should all have someone we can talk to. She is a staple in my life. One I cherish. Our conversations are often about regrets. In our own aging, we have learned things that we did not understand with our aging parents. We have a sorrow from not being better daughters. But then how could we be? We had never experienced this thing of being a senior adult.

I find that doctors treat me differently. That too seemed to happen overnight. My sister says that it happens the moment you go on Medicare. Perhaps she is right. No longer do they seem to care about my concerns. They ask question. I answer. I pay the bill. The warmth and concern I once felt is gone. I am just another old person who can complain all she wants, but she is on the downside. Not a good feeling. I miss being important to that doctor. I hate being talked down to. I may have sagging boobs, white hair and arthritic hands, but I am still an intelligent, exciting woman. Darn it, I have worth.

I think it is time for this old world to buck up and take notice. You who are young get a grip; your day is coming. For those of you in the same boat, we are valid human beings with much worth and beauty. For those in the medical field, we have feelings and have paid our dues. We deserve respect and your admiration. For our government, there are many of us who are in the middle to low income status. Please be aware, and work for us. We have paid your way for many years. Show us the courtesy to represent us and protect us. For our families, I know you are concerned about us and sometimes afraid for us. Perhaps we are a bit of a burden at times. It is not to our liking or our desire. Life has not always been kind or fair to us.

I know I speak for more than just this getting-shorter-by-the-day woman. We all come to this time of surprise and in some ways awe. We have new understanding of life. A new world has opened to us with all of its secrets to be revealed. Life is a mystery but never to much as when you face the reality of your senior age. A wisdom comes that was never expected.

To each of you, we are valid people with much to give. This adventure in aging can be one of distress and difficulty or one of hope and enthusiasm. We are still the keepers of knowledge and history. We are still capable, creative beings. We all have much within us to be explored.

Well, my body might not be its youthful self, but it has served me well. I will be kind to it. My hair might be thinning, but I love my new color. No part of this life journey is without struggle, yet I am more prepared at this age than at any other.

So join me in this new adventure. Enjoy your grandchildren and be their mentors. Embrace your children for one day they will take your place. Change the world by looking at it through loving eyes. Be able to grow and change, and you will never grow old. Let the journey begin.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A wonderful day

It rolls around every year. Just shows up like Christmas or Thanksgiving. It's not on your calendar. At least not the way it is on mine. Some people hate the day. Some people ignore the day. Some others grab hold of it and work it from dawn to midnight. I personally embrace the day. What a wonderful day. What a glorious, wonderful day.

I am on the countdown to my birthday. As usual, it gives me time to look back over the years and remember birthday parties and other celebrations. Oh, wait, we didn't have birthday parties. I only remember one celebrated when I was about ten. According to my sister June, that was the only party any of the Loxley girls got to enjoy with friends and cake. Dickie Neff, Larry Spitler, Donna Puterbaugh, Vivian Force, Brenda Stager, Mary Martindale, Marilyn Unger and a few more kids were on hand to watch me turn 10. I don't really remember it well, but I have pictures to prove that it did take place. As I aged, my family remembered me on my special days. Dinner out, presents bought by Daddy, cards colored by children were very special celebrations. Yesterday James, Lisa and the twins took me on a picnic. Now, that's a party!

I am in good company in this being born in 1947. Here are just a few famous people who are aging on my same age plan: Susan Sarandon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Ted Danson, David Bowie, Rob Reiner, Cindy Williams, Jane Curtin, Meat Loaf, David Letterman and Stephen King. I think we all look pretty good for our ages. I am blessed to be poor enough to not have a face lift. My upper lip still moves when I talk. My hair is grey, and I love it. My figure is less than perfect, but this old body has delivered two beautiful children and has had a good journey with me. All in all, I think I've aged well.

There is a misnomer about aging. The overall attitude is that older people are stuck in the past and their knowledge is obsolete. Uh, uh. The older you get the more you learn. Knowledge adds up like new words in a dictionary. We add and add over the years tossing out what is outdated and ridiculous. We relish the opportunity to learn more and to be wiser. We understand the thrill of learning, changing, growing in wisdom. I think that years of age should be tossed aside. We are all on the same path to become the most we can be at all ages.

Grandparents in this day and age are much different than those in the time of my parents. We are active. We live longer. We have more opportunities to reach out in this world and make a difference. We have seen wars. We have seen what prejudice can do to humanity. We expanded our knowledge and stepped away from old beliefs into knew understanding. We went from lack of TV to computers. We went from the old gas guzzling sedans to the environmentally smart car. No longer do we bury and burn trash. We recycle and cherish this earth we live on knowing that resources are not all renewable. We are those who say yes to change. We are not old.

A baby was born on June 16, 1947. She had blond curly hair and chubby cheeks. She grew into a little girl who observed all and became a teenager who questioned. Later she became mother and then grandmother. She hit the wall many times, learning to pick herself up and learn from her mistakes. With a mind full of words, she became a writer, hoping to reach out and make the understanding of one another a little bit better.

My birthday is marked on my calendar. I'm not sure why. I know it's my birthday. You don't have it on yours, and I don't have yours on mine, but I love sharing this journey of life with you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is a grandma?

We sat on the beach towel under the tree in the backyard. The only patch of shade. Naps were over. Snack was eaten. Awake and lively, my job was at hand. So what does a grandma do? What are her responsibilities? From where does she pull her knowledge on how to entertain twins almost-three-year-olds.

I never babysat when I was young. Little kids made me nervous. My mom babysat for everyone and didn't have time for her own kids. I raised my kids by the book (literally) and by the seat of my pants. They were indeed the test field for what little knowledge I had accumulated over my 25 years of life.

So now I have been through two older granddaughters ages 13 and 16. I loved my time with them and was busy learning what it is to be a grandma. Throughout those years, the girls raised me well. Now here I am with two little ones. Different parents. Different rules. I seem to be the only constant in this journey into children.

We blew bubbles most of the morning and into the afternoon. The kids tired of it, but I was on a roll. I could blow bubbles larger than their heads. I watched the progress of each enormous globe until it drifted out of view or rain down soapy droplets. I seemed to be the only one fascinated with the marvel of wind and bubble. Emma decided that we needed a bit of make-believe. She feigned illness needing to sleep. Of course, Nolan followed suit. After about three seconds she popped up and informed me that she felt better but not completely (of course) while Nolan just played along. We had make-believe breakfast then nap. Make-believe breakfast, lunch and snack. They loved it. I wanted to go back to blowing bubbles, but Emma and Nolan wanted to continue. It was time of interaction.

So what were we learning from this? I discovered that I had no power over what we were playing. I discovered that the children's make-believe is completely based on life events. Emma knew her illness dialogue as well as that she heard from her parents. I learned that Nolan followed everything his sister did and loved it. Most of all, I learned that by participating in this game of sleep and eat, they understood that MeMe had an imagination and could be part of their play. I could introduce new ideas and thoughts, and they were encouraged to express themselves. Creativity poured out of the little imaginations, and I met them there.

What is a grandma? She is a person who observes and creates means of teaching. She is creative and open to giving by putting herself aside. (I still wanted to blow bubbles.) She is always aware when doors open, creating a means of communication.

Each time the twins and I go into the yard, we check out the plants. Yesterday we gather (two each, of course) roses, jasmine, daphne and honeysuckles. They smelled each. Nolan opened an unopened flower from the honeysuckle blooms. We talked about the parts of the plants and looked at the bud compared to the full bloom. These twins are young yet took it all in. How much more can I teach them? It is an exciting time.

I am still growing as a grandma. I teach. They teach. I learn. They learn. We all benefit from this relationship. I think perhaps they will be better adults because of this time we spend together. Perhaps they will always seek to be creative and to learn about the world around them. I would like to think I do my job well.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Standing before me

Sometimes something random happens that stops you in your tracks. It sometimes takes your breath away. Today was one such day.

For the last two months, the twins have been taking a dance class. Each week their other grandma and I sit along the wall with young mothers watching the little ones dance. It has not been an easy class for we grandmoms to watch. A couple of the little girls love to pick on Nolan. Not sure why. It could be that they like the lone boy in the class or it could be his darling glasses. And week after week we have watched this little gentleman try to be patient and kind to some pretty bossy little girls.

It is interesting to watch the actions of the kids in the class. Emma and Nolan are thrilled to be there and savor every moment. Some children wander around the classroom while others refuse to dance. There is another set of twins in the class. Early on we realized that one of the twins was possibly autistic. She refused to interact and just couldn't stay with the program. Another teacher was brought in to help with the chaos of two to three year olds. Special attention was needed for this little one.

Today was the last day of class. We sat along the wall as usual. Emma lost a shoe, so we borrowed one from the teacher's lost and found. For some reason, both kids were a bit emotional. Each time they passed by one or both were on the verge of tears. We finally attributed it to the fact that we were so full of joy and laughter in watching them dance, that we didn't realize that it bothered them. Once we shaped up and watched with straight faces and encouragement, they did better. It was like there was something in the air. And, I know there was.

The little girl walked straight across the floor and stood in front of me. Her hands were curled and held up close to her chest. She just stood there looking into my face. And, for some unknown reason, I opened my arms to her. She curled into me laying her head on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her and lovingly patted her back. We sat like this for several minutes before she turned and nestled into my lap. Again, I wrapped my arms around her and laid my head against hers. We sat like that until almost the end of class. A child who was always wandered the room, rebelling against her mother, silent in a room full of children. She seemed to find peace in my arms....and I felt the love of God wrapped around us both.

I don't know the reason for her actions or mine. The remainder of the day has been in reflection of those minutes spent with this silent child. I thought of the God within all of us. That part of us that we don't wear often enough that says, "Come to me. I will give you peace." She knew I could give her something. I knew it as well.

Another mother sitting next to me leaned over and said, "That was precious." I knew then that I was not the only one touched by this experience. I was given a gift today. One that I shall replay over and over again. Standing before me was God.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Grey Blob

An apology. Yes, I owe an apology for both of my blogs. I haven't been as diligent as I should be in keeping up with these pages I love to write. Life gets in the way. Always I think of these pages as my ramblings with no one really paying any attention. Then I begin to doubt if I should be writing. Well, today is my wake-up call.

While slipping into the Sunday morning nest where I write my blogs and newspaper column, I found that I had comments that had not been moderated. Comments from readers that had not been acknowledged. I AM SORRY. Shame on me. You do read my ramblings. Sometimes I forget that maybe my words are your words as well. Sometimes I forget that I am a cog in a very large wheel, and I'd best be aware.

There is no novel in my words. I've come to accept that fact. I don't have pages of fiction in my head that need to find a voice. I'm not a non-fiction reader; therefore, I don't have it in me to write such books. So what am I? Hm. I often ask God to give me clarity. More often than not, I ask about my purpose on this little ball of earth. As a child, I was close to death. I bumped and rolled along in life the intervening years. I am a survivor thus I have purpose.

More recently as I age, I ask God that I learn more about this grey glob in my skull that contains an infinite amount of knowledge. Knowledge I can't even understand. I ask that in my remaining years, I might learn more of what it contains. Clarity of purpose. Exposure of gifts. An emptying of wealth that this grey matter holds. Contrary to what most people might do, I sometimes try to look into that grey mass persuading myself that if I look hard enough I might find something new. Don't try this at home. It doesn't work. Yet awareness comes to me at the most unusual times. Someone may ask advice and for some silly reason, the answer is in my head. I didn't come up with it. It just was there. We have a wonderful, mystical glob that possesses everything God intended for us just sitting there on top of our heads.

One thing I have learned is that this glob doesn't work well unless there is activity and stimulation. Opening to knew thoughts and ideas. Taking chances where our own doubt is our worst enemy. Time and time again, I have met people who do not know me but who have the same abstract beliefs that I do. I find that this grey mass shares a common thread with others. I often need to step away from who I believe I am in order to learn more about who I am supposed to be. It is a gift we are given at birth.

I have no idea where all of this came from today. Perhaps it is because of you, the readers, who take time to comment on the words that just pop out of my head. Perhaps it is another door that opened and God said, "Write. I am the words. You are my pen."

I believe in this grey mass on my head. This grey blob that refuses to stay dormant. The one that lets me know a few more things every day. My job is to listen and write. So to you who comment on my writings, I thank you. We are all of one thread that weaves in and out of this world and all of humanity. Thank you for being part of my tapestry.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

They picked me

My granddaughter who will be a Junior in high school needed to write a report about a person in her life. She wanted to write about me. Is there anything that could make a grandma prouder than to be the one adult she picked!? She interviewed me several times over the following weeks. All sorts of questions about my life. Questions about what I took away from the 60's. Not long after, Sydney sent the report to me. The first line she wrote was "My Grammy is a very inspirational woman....." The words meant the world to me. She warmed my heart and made me proud. Then I realized the responsibility comes with those few words. 'Very inspiration woman'.

The Oxford Dictionary:
[ ˌinspəˈrāSHən ]
  1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative:
Those are powerful words. I was humbled then and am still. Yes, there is a responsibility with being up on that pedestal. I need to be worthy of those words always. I am blessed to live near my grandchildren and to have the opportunities to spend time with them. Our relationships began when they were newborns. A touch, the love that we exude, tenderness, all the early things we do to bond. Then we move on to teaching, sharing, hugging, verbally letting them know their value. Now we are friends and embrace the times we are together.

Yesterday Sydney's sister Gabby called me, "Grammy, I am writing a report on Helen Keller. Did you know her? (I chuckle) I needed to ask an adult about her. I picked you." She picked me! An opportunity opens and new moments are cherished. I did inform her that Helen Keller was around when I was a girl, but I did not know her. Gabby wrote, and I talked about a woman of great influence and one who truly was inspiring. I felt like a little kid in school with her hand up hoping the teacher would pick her to erase the blackboard. My granddaughter picked me.

Being an inspiration to your family is indeed the supreme honor. We never know how much our families will remember of us when we are gone, but perhaps, just perhaps, the legacy we leave in the hearts of those we love will carry on throughout generations. Perhaps someday a child will pick up a tattered report and learn a bit of the past, a bit of an old grammy who was honored to know her grandchildren and to be part of their lives....and to know I was picked.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Indeed a natural woman

She was being interviewed on TV. The interviewer was commenting on how wonderful she looked at 80 years of age. Hm. I had known her career from when I was a child on to present day. To me she looked worse than ever before. Like so many other women who are aging, she did what she could to look younger, better. But did she succeed?

Working retail, I see a lot of women. Obviously, women of a certain age begin to fear their age. The hair color gets wonky. Never looks quite natural. The amount of make up increases. In most cases, the perfume gets heavier. I wonder, "Do they understand that they are more beautiful without the artificial look."

I've yet to see someone who has had a facelift who looks natural. Botox makes for faces only half expressive. Lips don't move. Smiles are half as lovely as they should be. Over and over I wonder why. Is being the best-you-can-be made from artificial sources? Why are we so bothered by the way we are? Why do men and women think they need to improve? What is so bad about aging, having laugh lines, having inner beauty?

I gave up hair color a long time ago. Chemicals on my scalp didn't seem to be so smart. I found that I had some lovely hair beneath that boxed color. A good hair cut and my white/grey turned into something I could embrace and have compliments on daily.

Perhaps it is insecurity. An insecurity brought on by what we see in magazines, in movies and on TV. Perhaps insecurity in the workforce and private lives where competition lives. A silly sense of beauty. Some of the most beautiful older women I have seen allow themselves to be natural. Their spirit is shown in their faces. Nothing distracts from seeing the true loveliness. What is the problem with embracing grey hair, wrinkles, a bit of sagging here and there? I certainly don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting the ravages of time. I don't consider them ravages. I am a map of my life. I am an older woman and embrace the beauty that comes with it. A peace that I didn't have in my youth. A wisdom that allows me to be myself and to embrace others. A picture of the true me. I have no time to fuss. I want that time to live and be those I love.

I wanted the woman on TV to look normal. I wanted to tell her that the five days she spends in the gym and obviously the massive other hours she is spending on her skin and hair aren't working for her and are eating up her life. Over and over we see it as celebrities age. Faces numb and layers of make up and colors. Maybe it is my 1960's history rebelling. "I am woman. Hear me roar.", "I am a natural woman", Free to be You and Me.

My grandchildren will see what beauty comes from aging. I am indeed a natural woman.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Working our way up to eye to eye

Knees. Yep, knees. A toddler sees nothing but knees and chins from the time they are born until they reach somewhere between three and four years of age. Always the same in their little lives. People looking down on them. Their little necks must get tired looking up at us all the time. I can't see under my chin, so I hope the view is good. Yep, knees and chins.

I detest meals where the children either eat before the parents or at family gatherings are relegated to the children's table. I grew up sitting with the adults. I learned patience and respect at that table. I learned about my family history as well as what was happening in the lives of those around me. I learned to listen. As I grew older, I learned to participate in the conversations. Learning to observe. Learning about those I love.

Why isolate the children? Well, probably because there isn't enough room at the table or perhaps the parents don't want to be bothered. So including them takes a little effort and perhaps a lot of patience. Well, isn't that what parenting is all about? Children grow up and are gone too quickly. A baby turns into a preschooler before you know it. Toys fall away and soon a new driver is on the road. I'm in my later years and realize how important it is to celebrate each and every moment with the children.

Never have I been aware of age. I attribute this to the times I was included with the family. Of course, growing up country, you learned at an early age to work along side the adults. It was indeed a blessing. Trust comes with inclusion. Worlds are larger when tapped into other aged people.

Now honesty time. It is work. Pulling yourself up to the task at the end of a long day is difficult. Stopping to work with a toddler when the family has gathered for the first time in ages, calls on every resource mentally and physically when a child is screaming. As my son would say, "Mom, you don't understand." Well, I do. Yes, he has twins. Twice the work. Twice the challenge. And, if you work at the patience, twice the success for the adult and the child.

I try as much as possible with the two-year-olds to get down to their size when I talk to them. Eye contact and focus is important. They deserve it. Then the task of reading the child. What does that child need from you....from the situation? Sometimes they cannot articulate how they feel. Another task. Ask questions. Look around the room and try to understand. If it is a baby, you try everything ; however, I find that adult tension feeds the distress of a baby. Calming arms and quiet voices go a long way. With older kids asking questions about their lives and friends is a must. You might not really be interested but the more you are involved, the more you will care. Respect for the child begets loving relationships.

I have never really had a good look under my chin. I can well understand when a small child looks up at Santa and sees white hair crawling from his chin to the child. The prospective of a child. The gift of teaching and learning from raising children only makes us into better people. Relinquishing pieces of our own comfort and ease opens doors to more trusting relationships.

Knees and chins. Working our way up to eye to eye.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Back again

Looks like I have been ignoring my Grandparent's Voice much too long. Time slips away and no matter how hard we look, it is no longer there. True also for the size of the grandchildren and the time that passes in this process of getting older. Perhaps I need to have this grandma's voice for myself.

My oldest granddaughter Sydney is turning 16.  Her sister Gabby just turned 13. The twins will be 3 in July. And.....well, let's just say that I will be half way between 65 and 70 in June. Seems we blink an eye and changes take place everywhere we look.

Since I last wrote on a regular basis, I have switched jobs and am thankful to have a job. I moved and am blessed to have a lovely place to live. That said, I am tired of working and my feet and body ache and my lease will go up $400 the end of the year. Ah, the good with the bad. However, I can't really think it bad since with each change I learn to adjust and find change comes with growth. I learn more about myself with each year of life and each life change. I get to figure out how to tackle adversity and turn it to a positive. I find that this old brain of mine has a great deal of unexplored territory in it and the adventure of exploration is exciting. The more I use it, the more it likes me.

I don't know what you have been doing in my absence. I hope life has been good to you and your families.  I don't have a lot of wisdom to impart today except for this: The world is a scary place. Every day a new crisis fraught with fear and anxiety. So let's toss out the fear and anxiety. If you have followed my blog, you know that I believe that positive begets positive. Rising above the negative absolutely gives us all power. A power to embrace others. A power to heal. A power to make this world better.

Yes, I am back. I will try to be consistent in my writing. I hope you will continue to join me in this journey of life. I return with love in my heart and hope for us all.