Sunday, June 28, 2020

My little corner

My corner of the world. Just a little corner. It has trees and flowers and mountains and an ocean and lots of people....and me. I share this little corner with my children and grandchildren and friends and pets. And, I seem to have a lot of 'ands' in this first sentence, but sometimes you just feel like a little kid in a great big world. Today I am in my corner of it.

Having lived in a few states, I probably have a little better view of what other little corners are like. They all have their pros and cons. Some more than others. Yet I adjusted and learned. Yes, I learned. I learned first of all how to be a daughter, then a wife, then a mother, then a working woman, then a grandmother, then a retired woman. Whew! That was a whole bunch of learning. As it was happening, I did not realize what I was learning. I was learning what it meant to grow.

It isn't easy, this growing up thing. The pitfalls are many and the joys only grow in intensity as we age. When my mother passed, one of her last comments was that it all went so fast. Those words stick with me. Why it didn't really resonate with me when I was younger, I can only mark up as immaturity. So maybe what I gained through those years was maturity. So where am I going with this? Sometimes I wonder as well when I write. I just put the words down. You can decipher them.

Why do we realize so late that time, each minute of it, is to be treasured? It will be the first question I ask my maker when I get there. Why don't we realize that each minute is a gift? Why are we so self-centered that we do not realize that we are, each one of us, important to this map of life? Why don't we realize that our little corner is necessary to the whole? 

It is similar to the masks we are wearing during Covid 19. Our very breath can be life or death to those around us. My little mask potentially saves lives. My isolating, along with that of others, will save lives. My little corner makes a difference. 

My mother said that time passed so quickly. So if it is passing so quickly, shouldn't we all make our little corners worthy of living not just for ourselves but for others as well. I will protect you and you can protect me. 

Yes, I lived in a few states. I learned about people. Those who are stuck in the past and a way of life refusing to changes generation after generation. Those who believe that family only includes those born to it. Those who kept their little corner to themselves.

My mother reached out to everyone she ever met. She embraced the world without judgment. She ran towards need and not away from it. Would she wear a mask? I can't answer for her. I think she would believe that since she lived on a farm, she didn't need to. That sort of thinking doesn't work when corners meet. Indeed enough corners make boxes. Boxes to keep others safe.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Uninheriting

With the advent of this virus, we began ordering our groceries to be delivered. The fee is nominal compared to the risk of shopping. In fact, we might just continue this from now on. Current events are changing the way we do things.

My friend lives in a condo. Her daughters all live out of state. Yet they pay for many of her bills and try to help out financially. This friend has a 401k as well as owns her condo. She was talking about the things she would like to buy but is worried about the money. She is worried about the possibility of living in a senior home someday.

Me: You have a 401k and own your condo. Spend your money! You are 80. It's your money to enjoy. You have coverage if you go to a home someday.
Her: Well, when my parents passed they had nothing. There was nothing for their kids.
Me:  You don't need to save for your kids. They are all financially stable, and they are adults able to accept responsibility for their own lives and futures.
Her:  Oh, I guess so.
ARGH!

It is archaic to think that you have to provide for your children. Hopefully, we raise kids who can handle or not handle their finances and work their ways through the challenge called life! Parents are not the bank or savings and loan. No. We save to send them and their children through college and settle into their new adulthood, but once they are on their own, they are indeed on their own. We had to learn. So do they.

We know a couple who are seniors, well-to-do seniors. They have money in trusts for their kids and grandkids that will keep them afloat in the future. Yet, two of their children who are raising children can use the help now. What a great way to give to them now. Why save it for later? Why not enjoy the money with the children and grandchildren who share life with them now? 

I know I sound like a hardass woman, but I am not. After both of my parents were gone, we discovered that they had a great deal of money. All of our lives we saw them suffer through loss, mortgage the farm, struggle to make it through each year financially. They did not get the money until much later in life, but to know that the money was there and they did without was heartbreaking. Not to say that the money wasn't nice for the daughters, but knowing that my mom would have had an easier life, maybe gone to see her daughter more or done more things in her life which she never even thought to do when poor, broke my heart when she passed. 

Our parents work hard for their money. It is theirs to spend. The day of saving for inheritance is passed. I am blessed with memories to embrace from the years with my parents. I have a history that I love given to me by the parents who bore me. I need nothing more from them. They gave their all. They gave their lives for us.

Yes, my friend could help her daughters out by showing them how independent she truly is in taking care of her own business. As parents, living our lives to the fullest is showing our families what it is to be caring adults. I don't want to be remembered by a dollar sign. I want to be remembered for the gifts I can share with my family now. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Count me with them

We live in a turbulent time. I just had a birthday and can honestly say that is not the only time I have said those words. Wars, riots, disease outbreaks are not new. In many ways, we have moved forward from those times, although, I say we have not moved forward enough. And in the last few years, we have gone in the wrong direction. Anger and violence, lies and deceit, hate against others seem to have finally met with a wall of people who care and want change. Count me with them.

I grew up on a farm. I grew up in a white society. Never did we have minority kids in our classes. Even when the migrant workers passed through to work on the farm, we never saw them in church or in school. I don't know if no one noticed or even cared. 

I was a little girl when I first met my first black person. Thankfully, my children and grandchildren have been in school with a variety of children from different countries, difference religious beliefs and sometimes even different languages. What a marvelous thing it is to see all shades of prejudice disappear in such an atmosphere.....that is unless it is taught at home.

As a Christian, I see Christ less in the people of faith than I do in the humbleness, humility and caring I see from other believers and even non-believers. I would say that it shakes my faith, but my faith is not in a building nor is it in a book. My faith is in God. A God truly without borders.

A man I knew as a child was conversing with me about his migration away from rural life. He told me he knew as a child that he could not live in that atmosphere. My sisters and I were the same. In fact, my mother encouraged all of us to move away. She knew. We had minds that needed to grown and arms that needed to embrace an entire world and not just that where we were planted. 

Perhaps it is time to stop writing. I want to be a person of hope and happiness, but right now, it is difficult. We wear a mask to protect others. I would hope that when we rip off these masks, we finally find a world more tolerant and loving. A world working together for a better place for all creatures.

Our environment has leapt for joy at these upright creatures giving them a break. They roam their ancient homelands and live in a similar world to what their ancestors knew. The air is cleaner, the water clearer and a world of nature recuperating from the destruction we have laid upon it. I cheer you on, beautiful earth!

Please know that I am always here for you. I may not write as often, but you can always write to me. I do not post all messages, because some are just between you and me. Be safe. Please be smart. Most of all, please be kind to one another and open yourselves up to new ways of living. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Art of hugging

Oh, how I miss them. How I miss wrapping my arms around my family. This is not only a virus that takes from the body. It truly robs the heart.

I have been going through old pictures, putting names on the back, so no one else will have to do the research or be in generations that don't remember. Truly, it takes me down memory lane. I find a family tree unfold that was once hidden. I look for resemblances and pictures of homes now gone. I see generations of people who barely touched, let alone hug. Thank goodness I was raised with parents who loved to hug.

Of course, in this mass of several hundred pictures of at least five generations, I find that my generation learned to hug and say the words 'I love you'. We didn't just say it to family. No, we said it to relatives and friends. I remember my uncle lying in a hospital bed with only me for company. I don't think I ever had a serious conversation with him. "I love you, Uncle Keith". He looked at me quizzically, "Really? You do, huh?" Well, that made an already awkward situation more awkward. I didn't back down but was happy when my relief person arrived. (BTW, I hugged him before I left and deposited a big, fat kiss on his cheek.)

In going through the pictures, I smiled at each hug I had with my loved ones. They are the dearest memories in photo form, in heart memory. Gabby always snuggles in my arms even though she is 18. Sydney at 21 always sits close to me and hugs with such truth. Emma and Nolan love to have me sit between them. I often find one of these twins age 7 creeping up onto my lap. We hold hands and have long chats, usually over tea. Pictures. They capture it all and speak of love.

My husband Loren commented on the way I look in all of the many pictures of me hugging people....there are quite a few. I told him it was because I mean each and every hug. They represent love and affection. To lose it would be losing part of my spirit. Virtual hugs are just not the same. The act of hugging is not to receive but to give.

With the twins getting older and more independent, I find that pats on the head, a hand on the back, a lucky squeeze suffice more than not. And then someties you get a surprise.

Nolan hopped on his bike. He didn't have much to say. He was pulling out onto the street and quickly looked back, "I love you, MeMe." I was just hugged.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I'm Lazy

Yep, I am. I first noticed it when my kids were little. At first, I was so busy trying to create the perfect life for a perfectionist husband; therefore, I had to raise perfect kids. Then one day I looked around and said, "What am I doing!?!?!?" Why am I raising kids to be like their father? Why not raise them to be kids.

Uh-huh, that was the beginning. The first step in lazy. The house was a little more cluttered. Toys were not immediately put away and there might be a few dishes in the sink, but there was laughter throughout the house. I got a little lazier, but my kids got a mom. This continued throughout their growing years. Nothing was so set in stone that we couldn't discuss and work out a plan. We learned to trust each other as well as confide in one another. I liked giving them avenues to explore, places for adventures, the silliness that made memories.

Then I worked. I didn't have time to be lazy at work, but how I enjoyed that kicked back feeling when I got home. The only person I had to clean up after was me, and I was good at making little mess. I wasn't lazy. I was happy.

Then I retired. Once in a while, I wouldn't make my bed. Why should I? It was cozy when I left it, why not jump back into the nest as is? I found that I could eat when I wanted and what I wanted. Not only that! I could wear my sweats all day and not see a soul. A life of no schedules, no fuss, no worries.

Then I married. Thank goodness he was on the same page as was I. We were moving along just fine finding our footing as a married pair when COVID-19 hit.  Now, of course, I have plenty of time to clean, sort, take up a new hobby, write. So why is it so hard to get motivated? Yep, I'm lazy. Each day is like the next. It has some variation but not the impulsive life I took for granted.

As I reflect in this haze of days resembling one another, I see that the laziness of this life has allowed the environment and all its creatures to reflourish. Parents are really getting to know their children and perhaps discovering new ways to handle anger and frustration. Children are learning from their parents. Really learning from them. Lazy does seem to have a bright side.

So, if you feel lazy, I cheer you on. Embrace this time and see it as a gift; time is precious. You can sort out what is meaningless and find new ways to go forward. You can think in new ways and learn new things. In essence, as with nature, you are coming alive.

Welcome to my world of lazy.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

For moms everywhere

If you don't have a mother, I would stand in. 

If you don't have a child, I would understand. 

If you are a child, know that you are loved. 

If you are a daddy mom, know that you are admired. 

If you are a mother, you know the depth of love. 

If you are a grandma, then, of course, you understand. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are blessed to have a mom, blessed to remember a mom's love, blessed to be a parent, and most of all, blessed to have know what it was like to be in your mother's arms. 

Happy Mother's Day with love.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Refer to the example

Example. What a wonderful word! What an awful word! Yes indeed, one of those words with a double blade, depending on the portrayer of said example.

The English language is indeed such an example. We have so many words that mean many different things but are the same: to, too, two. You know what I mean. The confusion of words and meanings must seem impossible for those who do not understand this mishmash language. But for now, 'example' is my word.

From early school days, we know what an example means. Examples are shown in our workbooks and on the blackboard. Examples show us how to do something. They are actions as well as words.... actions as well as words.

Examples. Hm. Right now we are seeing examples. There are two sides to this issue of isolation. I am on the side of caution. There are those on the side of pushing the envelope. However, this is not the issue in this little bunch of words. The issue is how we show what we feel. You and I know that we are examples.

For the last few days, the twins (age almost 8) stayed with us. We have been back and forth for the entire isolation period, knowing that none of the two households are in contact with anyone else. We have practiced distancing and are teaching the children the same. I am amazed at how two eight-year-olds are handling the entire thing. Yes, it is by example.

I am on Facebook and see posts from people raging that they cannot get free being isolated and also those posting fake news on almost anything to reinforce what they want to believe (be it real or not). Examples. Our family is really good at research. We are also pretty good at listening to different views. Perhaps the biggest take away from this is that we allow for change and growth. There is an isolation that happens when we only take in what reinforces what we wish to believe.

I find the people I learn the most from are my grandchildren. They all have a different view of life from ages 21, 18 and two at 8. Their histories are limited, but their views on life are limitless. The simplicity of the youngers' thoughts often blows me away as they did when the girls were young. There is a purity in youth that cuts to the chase. They are examples of possibilities.

So what is taught in the home is taught by example. Raised in a home of yelling and closed-mindedness only feeds the youth who innocently listen. The cycle just repeats over and over again. Can it change?

I was in a rocky first marriage. Having married young enough and in the Bible belt, I was raised that the man ruled the house. A woman had her place in the home. In the home. Children were told to be quiet and have no opinions. What happened in the home stayed in the home. Yes, it was an unhappy marriage. When my husband came home from work, the children were bathed clean and ready to greet Daddy with open arms. The house was clean, the wife was humble and dinner was on the table. It was in all its perfection truly flawed. When another woman came into the picture, I realized that I had lived my life for him and not for me and my children. So I grabbed hold of a life I gave up when I was a young bride and reveled in the freedom. I dropped everything to play with my children and to get to know them better. I tossed out my past of a male glorified world and found out that the examples I had followed were seriously flawed. I loved myself and my life. My ex told me that he didn't like the new me. Hm. He didn't like the old one either. But I had donned the example I wanted my children to know.

Example. I have worn this new me for most of my adult life. It is a 'me' who has changed numerous times and one who has been added too as well. I had to define what my example would be and then pass it on to those I love, allowing them to know their example was sometimes flawed as well as able to grow and change.

Example. We all need to ask ourselves which type of example we want to be. We have no choice whether or not to be an example, because we just are.

Food for thought from an isolated woman making the most of the time.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Love letters

Love letters. Today I wrote love letters to my granddaughters. Sydney is a junior in college. Gabby is a senior in high school. They know I love them.

Love letters. As a grandmom, this isolation has pointed out the years of my life I have lead and those that I hope will continue. A year ago I began copying posts from Facebook that I had written about my family into a document called For My Family. I am on the second document now full of laughter and the simple actions of living life. I also have another page started with feelings, my feeling. It is called Who I Am.

As we age, we realize all the things we did not ask our parents and that other generation. It is important to me that my family has those answers and perhaps be surprised at the captured memories I treasure. For those children too young to keep these memories, I will paint them a picture of their Grammy, their MeMe. This I can give to them. This I can give to me.

This morning I was contemplating what to do for my younger granddaughter who is missing her graduation and prom. She may even start college from home. My heart aches for her. My other granddaughter came home before college kids were told to bring home all their items. Her clothes and other necessities are still in an apartment two hours away. Both of them have no summer jobs to help pay for their educations. So I decided to write letters to them. They are on my mind.

I miss those days when the girls were young. We had tea parties and got into all sorts of trouble, laughing and playing all the time. Our family experienced a difficult time years ago with relationships changed. At one time I saw the girls every day. After this time, I saw them on rare occasions. I know from my own experience that unless a memory is shaken loose, it lies dormant. Maybe dormant for a lifetime. I don't want the girls to forget. I don't want to be that person they didn't know that well. So, yes, I have to give up a little of myself to be as real as I possibly can, so they know me. Perhaps this isolation has shaken loose parts of me that might not have surfaced otherwise.

Love letters. I have the love letters between my parents when they were dating, but I have no love letters from them to me. For all the years I lived with my parents, I knew so little about them, about who they were, about their views, their pain, their joy, their past. Love letters. They are important. This is mine to you.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Love in a grocery bag

In our lifetimes could we ever have imagined this suffering of humanity and the feel of isolation? In many ways, I feel we are better off than most since we are retired. Yet it really isn't easier, is it?

I decided when I first had children that I would live nearby at least one of them even if it meant moving across the country. My kids were raised with extended family a couple thousand miles away. I did not want that for them. Hence, we live near all of my grandchildren which has been wonderful. Now we live close, but still, it seems so far. They come by stopping by at a distance; I just want to touch them, hug them. So close but yet so far.

This is the end of the world as we knew it. Lessons are being learned in the most difficult way. Indeed we are learning new ways of living. Obtaining food has taken on a variety of methods. My son insisted that he shop for us. Feeling guilty, we decided to do 'pick-up' shopping. This failed drastically when pick-up times stretched to more than two hours after the scheduled time. We were going to go to the store ourselves, but I met with the wrath of my son. He doesn't want to take chances with his old mom. Now we are back to my son shopping for us.

It is nice to be loved so deeply. Perhaps all of this is making our loved ones more aware of this tentative life we live and the possibility of losing loved an older generation.

In the future, more and more people might work from home. Large audience events will be handled differently. Our children might even have a different type of education. It will all change.

My sister June equates it to the Depression that our parents went through. It certainly changed their lives. And, in the long run, it affected ours as well.

We must all pull together putting aside our own wishes in order that this will turn around. Please be safe and be smart.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Eggs in a basket

Just like the colors of those dyed eggs in the basket: Red and yellow, black and white, all are equally gorgeous in his sight.

Easter is tomorrow. A time of family and remembering the gift of unwavering love. Our present situation has definitely made life more complicated. But my faith has no boundaries. And it seems that neither does that of the grandchildren.

Me: Honey, I'm sorry we won't be able to have Easter with you on Sunday.
Emma: It's okay, MeMe. The Easter Bunny can still come.

May we always accept the love of God as innocently as those things seen through the eyes of a child. Unsee but absolute.

Happy Easter to you and your loved ones.











Thursday, March 26, 2020

Corona Virus togetherness

So we thought retirement might be hard with that other person home all day long. Oh, my.

I was alone for twenty-five years before I married again at 71. My life was all tucked in around me with no one to consider. I had my own bad habits and really didn't need anyone else's. It is difficult to be with someone 24/7.

With those of you having a retired spouse at home, I can only imagine the changes you have had to make in your daily life. But we do have an advantage over these couples now isolated together. And, for many not only is the spouse at home, but the house is resounding with the noises of bored children.

What do we do with all this togetherness? Even though we were retired, I find myself climbing the walls. I miss my weekly grandkid fix and miss my furry granddog. I miss hanging out with my good friend JoAnne. I feel that urge to escape then reel myself back once more, trying to harness this need to be with people.

There are things I can do, but I find myself weighed down with the immensity of what is happening in the world. We have depression waiting to latch on and keep us even more isolated. Well, that's not going to happen! Not to me. Not to you.

Now is the time to learn from one another. It is the time to care about the world barely noticed before. It is time to grow in faith and possibilities. Time to find out what you are made of.

First, we need to be smart. Our desires are secondary at this point. There are people putting their lives in danger for the masses. If they can do that, we can certainly pull ourselves up and be strong for those around us. We have computers to keep us in touch. So use it! Skype and FaceTime. Write letters to your family even though they live nearby. Keep a diary about your life. Write of your youth, your love of family, your hopes and dreams. There are stories all around you. Write a personal, Messenger note to each of your FB friends. Let them know that you are truly thinking of them.

This is a time of opportunity. It is a lesson in living. In living with others. For me, it is a good time to work on myself. Yep, I am full of flaws. So what better time to work on me. Remember to listen to one another, not just nod your head or grunt in reply. We are literally in this together.

I ask you to make memories with those in your household. Play games, talk, create, learn something new together. Perhaps this is the beginning of beginnings. Be safe. I send you my love.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

I will make do

As kids, we made do with what we had for entertainment. We used tobacco lath for horses, burlap bags for everything from costumes to doll bedding, bales of straw for forts and corncribs for playhouses. With friends, we put on plays, searched the creek bed for turtles and frogs and discovered new things in nature with each season. We could make do.

Cambridge Dictionary: Make Do: to manage to live without things that you would like to have or with things or worse quality than you would like: ex. We didn't have cupboards so we made do with boxes.

Make do. It seems like all my childhood was 'make do'. We did not have much but made do with what we had. A word came up in a conversation with my sister June. Bandana! Any farm kid knows that their dads had a stack of handkerchiefs (or bandanas) that we girls nabbed when we were going to 'make do'. Of course, Mom grabbed them for our runny noses and used them to cover our chests covered with Vicks when we had a cough or wrapped around our necks for the same remedy.

As for us little ones, those blue and red bandanas became diapers for our dolls and sheets for their beds. In church, one of these lively cloths became Cats in a Cradle. Sometimes coins would be tied into the corner for our Sunday School offering. And to keep babies entertained, they became great peek-a-boo cloths.

Then we got a bit older. Mom would take bandanas and create bathing suits for her little girls. A couple tied made the bottom and a string gathering the cloth in the middle then tied behind the neck with the ends tied in the back of the child made the bra. Bandana beauties! Then we got even older. Those bandanas became headbands, neckbands and headscarves.

We saw those handkerchiefs hanging out of our father's work trousers and watched them flap on the clothesline. We carried them into the field to wipe away the sweat. Somehow they became that overlooked staple that did so many things. We never thought about it. We just made do. Everyday things were essentials in times of need. They even went on to be fads.

Yes, we can all make do. We can manage to live without things that we would like to have. In this process of 'make do', our world will rejuvenate itself. Streams and rivers will rest. The air will clear. The earth will make do reliving the peace and clarity it once knew. Perhaps this is a wake-up call for us all. As for now, I will make do.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

We step up not back

The red sign was placed by the door on the house. Food was prepared by neighbors and left outside the door. A family was ill. They were quarantined. It was my family. I had not yet joined this household that held my parents and older sisters. All had contracted Scarlet Fever. My mother was the caregiver, dealing with her own illness. The house was tagged because of a contagious disease.

So here we are in the midst of a worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Not like we didn't know it would arrive sooner or later, yet no one is prepared. Not even our government. People strip the stores of products out of fear. Having grown up with an outhouse, I am not so worried about the toilet paper. As long as we have magazines and leaves, we should be just fine. Pandemic. An illness, a challenge, a change of attitude and of life.

Yet in this chaos, we see such a variety of responses. There are those who consider this ridiculous. How can anything like this strike at us? We are in a modern-day and age when all things are easily remedied. What's with these people out in the stores stocking up on anything and everything!?

Then we have those who are terrified. They fill every crevice of their home with "in case we need it" items, stripping the shelves selfishly. Bottles and jugs of water are piled into grocery carts. Water!!!! If I'm not mistaken, I can actually still turn the tap if I am thirsty.

Lastly, we have the practical people who check to see if they can get by for a few weeks. They consider how to economize and even share with others. Schools, organizations and even neighbors are making lunches for school kids on special needs programs. Teachers are also creating programs for their students to follow at home. We all work together. There is a sense of community that comes out of such times as these. With communications so readily at hand, we follow the news and see where help is needed. Our world is not so closed in. We use our creativity to stay busy and to entertain children. We step up, not back. We hold out a hand, not take from it. No one can say where this will lead, but it has led us to one another.

I hope you fall into the last category. We are all in this together, our homes, our neighborhoods, our country, our world. Let's focus on what is important. Let's focus on one another. There is no red sign on the door, only common sense.

Friday, March 13, 2020

We are all in this together

We are all in this together. Our world family is struggling each in our own local, but you are my neighbor and I am yours. The best way to help is to hunker down and take care of yourselves. I care. I ask you to care. We are a world that needs love and caring. So please, please, please take care of yourselves and those you love. Be creative in your own homes and spend time with those you love. We can do this.

My current mantra:

Stay home.
Stay safe.
Be smart.
Drink wine.

Sending you all my love,
Pam

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Growing into grandparenthood

Yes, I had raised two children. Okay, I knew about bottles and diapers. I knew about motherhood with its trials and joys. What I had to learn about was being a GRANDPARENT.

We have natural instincts that come with us when we are born. We know how to cuddle a small animal and a stuffed toy. We feel protective of those we love. We use our instincts to protect ourselves. However, there are many things we learn only by trial and error.

Twenty-one years ago I watched a baby girl come into this world. Every fiber of my being wanted to hold, love and protect this newly breathing child. I was a first-time grandma. Grandma. Before I could learn what to do with this child, I had to learn how to wear the name.

Upon hearing that a baby was coming, I remember vividly thinking, "I'm divorced, fifty-one and a grandma!" Immediately I felt old. Who would ever want an old woman?!?! I probably should begin wearing dark colors and stop coloring my hair. Perhaps I should wear an apron. Those are the grandmas I remembered. My life would once more consist of diapers and spit up! GRANDMA!!!! How dare they! I wasn't ready yet!!

Yes, that was the first grandchild. When that newborn was placed in my arms, I realized that there was no greater name than grandma. I was her grandma. My tears greeted her then, and now I find when she comes home from college more tears flow. I learned what it was to love more deeply than ever imagined on that day March 11, 1999. For once I found a bond that I had never noticed before. It was one with my mother, with my grandmothers. I began to wonder about those women who were no longer in my life. I wanted to know more.

How does it happen this growing into grandparenthood? Oddly, it felt natural. In fact, it was wonderful and keeps getting better. As my grandchildren age, I miss the diapers and the spit-up. I miss all the 'firsts'.  I miss the long periods of time spent with tea parties and legos, with dress-up and dirty faces. I miss it all.

My older granddaughters call me Grammy. The seven-year-old twins call me MeMe. Blessings each and every time I hear the words. Why do I write this blog? Because I know you understand what it is to be a grandparent.

As for today, Happy Birthday, Sydney. Thank you for teaching me what it is to be a GRANDMA.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day

My great grandmother wore long dresses with hand-stitched pleats across the high necked bodice. She wore black, heeled shoes that laced and stockings that covered her legs. Her slip was also hand-stitched cotton that fell to the hem of her skirt. The sleeves of her bodice were long appropriately covering as much skin as possible. Her hair was worn up until bedtime and most of the time she wore an apron. How do I know? I have pictures. Bloomers were still hanging on. And modesty was the author of their lives.

My grandmothers wore ankle-length dresses of fabric that softy-draped. Their shoes were laced and had stubby heels. Again, the long stockings held on for another generation. And, once more, the apron seemed to be part of the ensemble on most days. Hair was shorter as were the sleeves on their dresses. Collars took the place of the high-up neckline. Bloomers gave way to silky skivvies. Women could vote and were finding a new voice.

My mother was definitely a modern woman, stepping away from her mother's constant desire for the old way of dressing. Her dresses were shorter and collars disappeared. She wore house dresses made from feed sacks and nylons or socks instead of stockings. Until she was older, she always wore a dress. Her shoes were flat and built for comfort. She dressed according to the budget and reveled in wearing bright colors. She had a voice and taught her daughters to use theirs.

So now we are up to me. The rebel of the 60's who loved mini skirts and bikini bathing suits. In four generations, the skivvies had gone from bloomers to almost nothing. We dress following the fads and styles that emerge in this fast-changing world. Our necklines are lower and leggings are fun and comfy. We wear tank tops and shorts. We wear sweats and clothing for comfort. And, we don't need to dye our hair or wear makeup. We are us. We are our voice.

In these four generations, we have gone from women who always followed what the men in their lives dictated to becoming women who said, 'we are equal'. We fight for our rights and the rights of others. We are the trailblazers, teaching our children to be strong and compassionate. We are grandmas of the present who want our families to see that aging is not bad; it is beautiful. Those grandmothers before did the work so we could have the freedoms in dress and in expressing our feelings. We can stand up as equals choosing our own lives.

My great grandmothers' pictures are captured in sepia tones or black and white. My grandmothers are captured on black and white glossies. My mother is on video and color glossies. I am on digital. We have come a long way, Baby.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Myriad of March messages

Sharing with Neff Road this writing. Enjoy! Happy March.

I love to check out the Farmer's Almanac! Who doesn't?!  I grew up with it. Farmers believed it while the rest of us heard it quoted often. This is the source of the following exposé of March. "Dad, you would be proud of me."

I thought I should see if March 1 is a lion coming in or maybe just a cute, wooly lamb. My first glimpse was fog outside the window followed by sunshine and spring flowers, adding color to the neighborhood. The budding trees just opened with the first flowering. My verdict: A lamb. Definitely a lamb. This saying probably came from some long-ago ancestors who believed that the weather foretold things to come. This truly is not so much a weather predictor as perhaps a hope. If it comes in roaring, at least let it leave softly. Since our weather has been the mildest on record, I would say that we are probably looking at a sheepish ending to the month.

Here is one I had never heard before: A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay. Well, my friends, this one does not make sense. The barns are full for winter feed. Hay is baled and stored. Corn has been shelled and ground for feed or stored in the corn crib to use as needed. 
If I remember rightly, hay is not baled until May or later. Rather hard to bale it and fill the barn if it is not ready. (Oh, I think I have a headache.)

Another keeper: As it rains in March, so it rains in June. You and I both know that there is no predicting this fact. This was probably believed by the same people who hoped that the lioness that arrived at the beginning of March would surely change and make a cuddly lamb exit.

Here is a rather redundant one: March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers. Early flowers will absolutely bloom in May primarily because they are perennials. I believe that we started thinking about planting the garden in April/May. I seem to remember planting zinnias in the garden with Dad and Cousin Gene in May. That might have been the year I thought I would surprise Dad and pulled out an entire row of weeds, aka zinnias. Never planted in the garden again.

Ever heard this one: So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be. I know it is in the Almanac, but I'm thinking perhaps this is an Irish Almanac.

Thank goodness this is the final one: Is’t on St. Joseph’s day (19th) clear, So follows a fertile year; Is’t on St. Mary’s (25th) bright and clear, Fertile is said to be the year. No, I did not misspell Is't. I am thinking once more we are across the pond. If you can match these dates with the appropriate weather, then you might want to get a Farmer's Almanac next year.

I have my own saying for this new month. If there is peace and love at the beginning of March, there will be harmony and joy at the end of the month. Yep, I like mine straight from Pam's Almanac.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Miles and miles of heart

Okay, guys and gals, this is the week of hearts and roses, chocolates and champagne, love and more love. So, if you have not prepared, as might be usual, be notified right now that time is running out. Take your loved one to dinner. Plan a special evening to tell that special someone that you really went all out this year. Surprise the one you love with stepping out of the norm into the memorable. The LOVE WEEK.

(From Damn Yankees) You gotta have heart. Miles and miles of heart. Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course, but keep that old horse before the cart. First you've gotta have heart.

Being my usual nosy self, I decided to check up on this expression 'keep that old horse before the cart'. Hm. Pretty obvious, right. You can't pull the horse with the cart. The horse could push the cart. And, maybe, just maybe, this makes sense to me. I looked a little further into an explanation. Since I can find everything I need online, I was sure I could find a horse behind a cart. So: Cart before the horse is an idiom or proverb suggesting something is done contrary to a conventional or culturally expected order or relationship.' Oh, I like that part 'contrary to a conventional or culturally expected order.'

Having a bit of age and experience behind me and being (much to the frustration of my husband) a very observant person, I find that we are indeed creatures who settle into a way of life or routine never thinking to change. We tug that old cart behind us at a pace that even slows down when we reach a certain age. Yet, that old horse keeps pulling. In essence, nothing changes because it seems that people do not want to change. Well, I know that we never grow, become wiser or smarter, if we do not change.

There is a real thrill that comes with change. It is a new adventure filled with new observations and, more than likely, new people. A life becomes more productive and fuller with change. That horse gets a breather behind that boring cart, probably stopping to munch on grass and maybe even meet a new horse or two along the way.

You gotta have heart. And, it doesn't hurt to give that heart away. I would like to change up those words: You gotta have heart. Miles and miles of heart. Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course, but keep that old horse behind the cart. Then you'll find a new start.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

The helping hand

Exhausted, I pulled strength from somewhere around my toes and took on what needed to be done. Flu. That awful, terrible thing that we all know. It knocks us off our feet, tossing us like rag dolls, refusing to let go. Rough, huh? Well, let me tell you something. When it hits our grandkids, it strikes at our hearts. Straight shot. You and I would trade places with them in a minute if we could, so we do the next best thing.

My son and family returned from ten days in Orlando, having the time of their lives making memories that will be relieved and cherished forever. Flying home to Oregon, Nolan got the flu. His temperature soared and the barfies found him. All ready to come home and resume the routine was met with an immediate halt. "Mom, can you help? We need Emma out of the house so she doesn't get it." Well, no need to ask. Everything takes a back burner and grandparenting at its roots takes place.

Millie, their Airdale, had already spent ten days with us. Now she would stay on along with a lively little miss. Now to complicate all this, the doc informs me that I have arthritis and bone spurs in my knee cap. For a grandma who has been active for years with her grandkids, this is not the best news. Getting up and down from the floor and going stairs takes great effort and tolerance of pain. Can't let that stop me!

My mother was a whirlwind of strength and endurance. As a parent and a grandparent, I get it. I can tolerate a great deal to make this a good time for Emma and show my son that I am more than able to help out.

Emma moved in for two days. We played games, went to horseback riding class, she went to school, we giggled a great deal and enjoyed our time together. She took care of bracing my knee, and I scrubbed her back. We made memories in the simpleness of everyday living.

Nolan finally was well enough to come and stay an afternoon with me while his sister was at school. I  even found time to dash off to the school for lunch with Emma. My son and Lisa knew that the kids were safe and well-cared for. I was never a parent who loved to send her grandkids off with their parents. I love living close enough to be part of all their lives. I never had that for my kids. I will not allow them to miss it.

My husband's son just had a new baby. I am thinking that the activity level with this one will be a little more reserved. But who knows? I may just find that this new one adds a bit more energy and strength to this old girl.

We are the blessed. We get to make memories for our loved ones. We are the authors of their past and the participant of their futures. MeMe. Yep, that's the best name I have ever been called. How about you?

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Open each petal one by one

Paul Simon describe it best in "Sound of Silence": And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never share. And no one dare....disturb the sound of silence.

A very real thing happens to many people after the first of the year. In case you did not know it, January is considered the month when people are most depressed. In fact, the third Monday is called Blue Monday. I know it is a difficult month for me. A let down after the holidays always finds me. Memories of sad events that took place during the holidays seem to linger after the first of the year. Dark stormy weather does nothing to help with my winter blues.

Depression is very real. I had no idea what it was when I was a kid. In fact, no one ever talked about feelings or expressed them for what they were. Sorrow, hurt, difficulties in life, (and the list goes on) were never shared. My examples were all considered strong people. In retrospect, I find that they failed their daughters by not expressing their feelings. People could be grumpy and angry. Maybe they were silent and off to themselves. I know I spent long periods of time alone with my thoughts. I never would have thought to share them. (I know, hard to believe I had such a problem.) 

I first realized what depression was after the birth of each of my two children. Each time I was at a bad place, trying to swim upstream. I did not ask for help nor did I admit the struggle I felt. Then I began writing. That I could do. The words were just for me, but this tool gave me insight. When I went through a terrible divorce, I found that I needed help beyond myself. And, in that reaching out, I found my strength.

In working with troubled teens, the biggest hurdles I found were in helping kids open up about their feelings. Anger would rage. Drugs might come into the picture. Some kids came to me with bruises on their bodies. They had no one to go to whom they could trust. I got it. I felt that way most of my youth. I learned a great deal from the depths of my feelings and by moving around this country. I learned that I could change from what I learned as a child. I found that I could only have healthy kids if I was open and honest about the feelings with which I dealt.

It is a time of year to understand and help others. January is a tough month. You are not alone if you are feeling down. Seek someone to talk to. There is no shame in admitting that the load is too heavy. In fact, you are doing yourself and your families a favor. If you know someone who is depressed, open a dialogue with that person and help him/her find their own help source. I like the following quote by Goldie Hawn. I leave you with this:

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.”