Love at First Sight

The day that Matthew was born will be one that will stick with me forever.  My daughter was only nineteen.  I was a nervous wreck. Troy had called and asked me to bring something up to the hospital.  I did, and ended up staying.  I thought for sure she would ask me to leave before the actual birth.  But she didn’t.  I am so grateful for that moment in time when I saw the birth of my grandson. I had never seen anything as amazing as childbirth.  If I didn’t believe in a higher power, that instant in time would have changed my unbelief.  I fell in love with Matthew at first sight.  Michelle and Troy were living with me at the time, so I had many opportunities to spend with him, adoring the little infant that was my grandson.  I was amazed at everything he did, every time he smiled, every time he made a noise, every move he made.  When they talk about love hurting, this was it.  I loved him so much, I ached.  I would try to imagine him as a little boy, and older.  I prayed to God that he would always stay safe, and I started to worry. I suddenly couldn’t imagine life without him. Maybe I worried more because he wasn’t my child, he was my daughter’s child, and she was little more than a child herself.  She and Troy had to grow up quickly.  I was just glad that it was under my roof.

They took Matthew to New Orleans when he was six months old to visit Troy’s parents.  I missed him so much.  I think he missed me, too.  When Matthew was really cranky, Michelle would call and put the phone to Matthew’s ear while I read “Snuggle Puppy of Mine” to him, a book I read to him so often that I had it memorized.  He  would calm down instantly.

I always dreaded the day Matthew would get too old for me….too old to sit on my lap, too old to hug me, too old to stay at Grandma’s house.  He will be ten in a couple of months, but every once in awhile, he will come to sit half on my lap, half on the edge of my chair to show me something or just to snuggle.  The other day he got angry with me for changing a radio station in the car that he had just put on (he didn’t realize that I was trying to save it on one of the dials so it would always be there at the push of a button).  A few minutes later, I got a hug from him that never seemed to end.  I didn’t want it too.  I cherish those moments.

Matthew and I share a special bond.  I think (I hope) we always will.

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Family Camping

Last night was the final evening visiting family in Florida. The weather was terrible, but the company was great! We reminisced the whole evening, and laughed more than most of us had in a long time. One story, especially, had us in stitches.
We were all set to go camping. It took my mother and my aunt a week to pack. It wasn’t easy packing for twenty. The problem on this particular trip was that the “men” had to work, so they wouldn’t be able to join us until the next day. We were getting pretty good at camping, the kids helping to put up tents and set up camp. It was going to be okay.

It started out well. We found the perfect spot at Circle C campgrounds. There was no one around us, which is always nice when there were seventeen kids of all ages in our group. Our fathers would be proud.

That is….until it rained…..poured cats and dogs. The one little fact that wasn’t considered is WHY no one else was camped near us. We set up camp at the bottom of a hill on a day when a major storm was forecasted. Tents caved in…lights went out..food was ruined…kids were screaming… all in the middle of the night.

I’m not sure, but that might have been our last family camping trip. Not funny then, hysterical on Friday night.

Tweety Bird

Years ago, on a cold spring day, I saved a baby sparrow from certain death.  I was reaching for mail in my mailbox, and inside was this sparrow that had little to no feathers. He fell from a nest perched above the light, above the mailbox.  I took this cold, unmoving tiny bird between my hands and held him for twenty minutes before he began stirring. I fed him some dry dog food mixed with water every couple of hours.  TweetyBird grew and thrived.  He was part of the family.  When I let him fly around at times, he would land on a shoulder, or close to your hand, and try to steal your food, or pen, or whatever you happened to be working with.  He teased the cat all the time, landing close, then flying away, just in time.  One day, he was out of his cage, and on the floor while I was cooking.  I accidentally stepped on poor Tweety.  My daughter and I brought him to the vet, who said he had a broken leg and was in shock.  He could put him to sleep. Michelle and I started crying and hugged.  Silently, the vet put a piece of scotch tape around the leg, and said we could take him home, but he probably wouldn’t make it past morning.  Tweety wasn’t ready to die, however.  Soon he was flying around again like nothing had happened. Almost. Landing was a little tough. The broken leg would swing out to the side, but land he did.

Tweety had a good life, even getting outside once, although he was easy to spot, with a broken leg.  Eventually, though, the cat won.

Teagan

Teagan is my fourth grandchild.  She is almost eight months old.  She is such a doll.  When Michelle takes her anyplace, she doesn’t make a peep.  She’s a people watcher, the kind that makes you wonder what their thinking about.  A few weeks ago, we took her to Sketch Fest downtown.  It was an adult comedy show, but one of the stars in the show was Jim’s daughter, so Michelle had no choice.  Teagan will not stay with anyone but her mother, and she had to see Diana in the show.  Not a sound was heard from Teagan the whole time.

At home, it’s a different story.  She babbles on and on, and laughs at the other three kids and their antics.  She is constantly on the move, not walking or crawling yet.  In a sitting position, she somehow moves her bottom in such as way that gets her closer to her mother, or at least, to her mother’s Iphone.

Because the other three take so much of my time, I don’t know Teagan as well.  But I am eager to spend lots of time with her this summer, and watch her personality unfold.

Teagan

My Significant Other

They say opposites attract.  Maybe that’s why Jim and I have lasted so long.  He likes winter. I like summer.  He wants to move to Bozeman, Montana when he retires.  I want to move to Sarasota, Florida.  Jim loves mornings.  I’m a night owl.  Jim loves sporting events.  I love movies, plays, and dinners out.  You get the picture.  We are polar opposites.  Have been for twenty years.

There could be another reason we’ve lasted.  We never took our dating relationship to the next level. We did become engaged, maybe fifteen years ago, but decided to wait until the kids were older to actually marry. He had two, I had one, but we had different ideas on how to raise our kids, and so we decided to wait until they were in high school.  When Michelle reached high school age, we decided to wait until they were out of high school.  We then decided to wait until the kids were out of the house and settled into their own lives.  Our last excuse was to wait until we were both retired. 

The kids made “Save the Date” magnets for us one time.  They thought they could nudge us into matrimony.  Obviously, they were wrong.  I think they have given up.

 

She Smiled

We took her to lunch today
She didn’t have much to say

But she smiled

We’ll take her by Pass-A-Grill
I’m thinking she’ll get her fill

And remember

Years gone by
On her lanai

With her sisters

Peering out onto the bay
Watching dolphins as they play

I bet she’ll smile
Her eyes will smile

And so will ours

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Strength

I will be going to visit my aunt in a few short hours. She is so looking forward to seeing me. I was so looking forward to seeing her. But now, I’m not so sure.

I’ve been warned. She is not the same strong woman I knew so well. The woman who travelled across the country in her gold 1969 Oldsmobile with only a fourteen year old son and even younger niece for company, stopping at any national park en route. The women that raised three sons, putting all of them through college, one who became a physician, another owning a nursing home, and one who is taking care of her now . The women who watched two of those sons die a slow, horrendous death, within months of each other. The women, whose faith faltered for a time, but came back even stronger. The women who volunteered for a homeless shelter for many, many years. The women who never had a daughter of her own, so “adopted” me.

I will be going to visit my ninety-one year old aunt very soon. I’m told the light is gone from her eyes. I am told she weighs less than ninety pounds. I am told that her memory is not what it used to be. I have been warned.

God, please grant me half her strength, so that I can hide my grief of seeing her like this, and hide my fear that this may very well be the last time that I will see her in this life.

Forgotten

I had forgotten the feeling of the sun on my face.

I used to work for an airline. I wouldn’t go a month in the winter, without a quick couple of days to Florida visiting family, sitting on the beach, getting a quick burn that turned tan. I always loved that first day, the first kiss of the sun.

Today reminded me of that time in my life. I slept in. I’m usually the last one to the coffee pot on vacation. Two cousins (who have been more like sisters to us), three sisters, and a spattering of nieces and nephews spent the rest of the day just catching up, soaking in the sun, laughing, eating, drinking. We were going to go to the beach, but never left the deck. The sun peeked in and out all day, the temperature perfect.

My sister and I made a major life changing decision today. When we retire, we WILL spend January and February in Florida each year. We owe it to ourselves. Our families will have to deal with it. They can come with, visit, or wait for our return. We intend to soak in the sun and enjoy the relaxation only found away from the responsibilities of normal day to day living.

I had forgotten the feeling of the sun on my face.

Stones and Stones

In the process of rehabbing the house I bought four years ago, my son-in-law mentioned that I needed to have a sump pump put in my very wet and odorous crawlspace.  In order to do that I needed to raise the level of the crawlspace because it was below the footing (whatever that meant). He gave me the figures, and I ordered two tons of stones to be delivered to my driveway. I learned quickly what two tons of stones looked like.  The day after it was delivered, I had one of those “calling all friends and family, and bring your tools (in this case wheelbarrows) type of days.”

We woke up to a miserably hot and rainy morning, not the kind of day conducive to the work that had to be done. My brother-in-law and I were the first ones on the job, looking at the vast piles of wet stone.  I, for one, wanted to cry.  It wasn’t the first time that summer that I had that feeling, so reluctantly, I picked up a shovel and started in.  Fortunately more family members and friends filtered in. The first job was to cut a couple of holes in the subflooring so that stones could be dumped down into the crawlspace.  Two people were shoveling stone into the the five or six wheelbarrows waiting to be wheeled into the house and dumped into the holes.  My father had the easiest job, sitting in a chair and communicating between the stone transporters and the four or five people in the crawlspace spreading the stones over a 1000 square foot area.

I will never forget, and will be forever grateful to the fourteen people who slaved on a hot, humid Saturday for many hours doing a miserable job.  Everyone there was truly exhausted, but I didn’t hear one complaint.  Instead, there was a lot of laughter and comradery.  Now, four years later, it is one of those fond memories that none of us will ever forget. Of course, if they were ever asked to go it again, I have a feeling most of those people, including me, would make sure they had very important other plans that day!

 

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Brynn

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In a household of six, two adults and four kids, Brynn, the two-year-old, hands down, rules the roost.  I have never known anyone quite like her.  She is a character, and smart as a whip.  You can’t help but laugh at some of her antics. When she was little, she would sit in the corner of the couch, playing with her little purse, dropping toys in and out, in and out, very content.  I think Michelle and Troy were a little relieved that they had a nice, quiet baby that didn’t cause any trouble.  The two older ones were usually fighting like cats and dogs.  Not his sweet, little thing.

I think the first inkling that things would be changing is when she started crawling.  I wouldn’t exactly call it crawling.  She would get up on her knees and go.  Hands would be by her side, not on the floor like most babies.  It was the funniest thing to watch. She could whip across the room, on her knees, quicker than toddlers could run.  She continued like that until she learned to walk.  I still see her doing the knee walk on rare occasions.

Brynn began talking fairly early.  Her mother understood her, but no one else could.  I am proud to say that I now belong to the club that can  translate “Brynn” talk.  The other night, she wanted to stay at my father’s house, and had tucked herself into one bed, then another.  I have a feeling that her mother said that she would have to ask Papa because I saw her go up to my father and just stare at him.  She was trying not to cry, trying to hold the tears back.  She then cried out in Brynn talk, “No say NO!” Michelle had to translate to my father that she was demanding that he not say no to the question she was about to ask.  He looked at Brynn and asked her what she wanted.  She again had to calm herself, willing the tears away, and say, as sweetly as possible, “My sleep Papa’s bed.”  He slowly began shaking his head, and Brynn could no longer hold back the tears.  She kept repeating, louder and louder, “My sleep Papa’s bed.”  Our hearts broke.  She was devastated.  Overtired, but devastated.

This all happened, of course, because she finally figured out that Matthew and Casey spend many weekends with me,  and decided enough was enough.  She wanted in on the action too.  Every time she comes to my house now, she climbs into my bed and wants to sleep in Ahma’s bed. I did let her stay, thinking that maybe she was ready, maybe I was ready.  I found out that she was more than ready, but I am not even close.  By 1:30 a.m., Brynn was still awake, on her fifth diaper because she kept peeling them off, and driving me crazy.  I think I must have dozed off before the fifth diaper came off, because I heard her crying (she had decided to sleep in HER room, the spare bedroom).  I got up, only to find her holding a diaper that was not just wet, but had signs of something else in it.  She was nice enough to throw the remains in the toilet.  I’m not sure how, but I scrubbed her hands before tucking her in next to me.

I spend more time at their house now to avoid the inevitable tears when I tell Brynn I have school in the morning, like that really matters to a two-year-old that just figured out the system.