Thursday, January 25, 2007

Remembering a Life

I first posted this last year. Just wanted to repost in honor.
Happy Birthday, Grandma.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She was born into a farming family – the 13th of 15 siblings. Three brothers had died – two in infancy and one, a half brother, at the age of 35 – before she was even born. The rest grew into modest lives and professions: Dressmakers, farmers, postal workers, homemakers.

The tiny, cute redheaded girl grew into a petite, lovely blazen haired woman.

She worked briefly in a sweets shop. She and her girlfriend at work would snitch chocolates when they could, and throw the wadded wrappers behind a display. They laughed about their boss one day moving the display and having a conniption over all the wrappers he’d find.

She fell in love with a younger man. He was tall and handsome and very personable. She was 20, he was 19. There was never anyone else after they met. They married and had a son. He made a good living as a civil servant mechanic at the local air force base.

She found complete fulfillment in caring for family and home. Their boy grew up, married, and had 2 children of his own. She lived for the time she could spend with them. They lived in another city but remained close. She pen palled with her granddaughter all through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.

When her husband died she moved to a retirement village. She missed her sweetheart each day as much as the first without him, but she stayed socially active and had many friends. She remained a sparkle on the water. She loved sharing - and pulling - a good joke, and enhanced any situation where she was present, though too humble to accept acknowledgment of it. She danced a jazzy number at her grandson’s wedding, and quite well, until the attention she drew embarrassed her and she sat down.

She had a physical therapy session one March morning. It went well, and she was in good spirits - sharing her sweet sense of humor with the therapists as they worked. She returned to her room and an hour later, passed away peacefully. The world has been a duller place ever since.

Today is my Grandmother’s 97th birthday – Happy Birthday, Grandma. I miss you.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

FADED - The Scheherazade Project

The following is my latest contribution to The Scheherazade Project, 12/7 - 12/19 theme. Yes, I'm running behind - what's new? ;) Members of the Project, welcome - or welcome back as the case may be! Hope you enjoy the read. Comments/criticisms welcome!


I was practically done cleaning out the apartment now. It’s funny how an entire lifetime of treasures and memories can be reduced down to fit in a few boxes. And somehow I’d managed to evaluate her things – things she’d hung on to for reasons only known to her – and separate them into “keep” and “donate”.

I ignored the nagging feeling that it was wrong to dispose of things that had no sentimental value to me.

I’d spent countless hours here, and now the room looked foreign. The bare walls. The faded curtains. The bright square of carpet where the easy chair sat, framed in a border of slightly dingy crushed pile. I bent down and ran my finger around the dent left by one of the legs.

I picked up the last small box and scanned the apartment before leaving for the last time. I was leaving the oversized Degas reproduction for the landlord – I really don’t have any care for ballet dancers in my own décor … And then noticed I’d missed a few items on the mantle. A seashell bowl of pinecones and potpourri, and a mint green candle. I sat the box back down and walked over to them.

I studied them for a while and decided they were junk. The potpourri had no more fragrance and was covered in dust. The candle had been burned at some point but the small concave pool left by the melt was also layered in dust. It had blemishes and dents in its surface, and was slightly misshapen – like a pillar wedding cake that had no internal support. I picked it up and smelled it – if it ever had a fragrance it was long gone now.

I dumped the contents of the bowl in the trash bag, and as I did so I turned the candle over absentmindedly. The underside held weakly on to a piece of masking tape, brittle and browned by age – and on the tape was written a name.

My name.

Now why was that?

I mean, I knew she labeled things meticulously, it was her way. So I obviously gave it to her. Maybe for Christmas one year, or some sort of gift. I stood next to the trash and turned the candle around over and over in my hands, trying to remember. I couldn’t remember at all.

I held it over the trash, ready to release it. But I didn’t. I drew it back to me and looked at the label again. There was no date, which was odd for her … But the writing was crisp and smooth … Written before the days of arthritis and bad eyesight. I wondered when.

I wondered all the way home. Candle in the box with the other keepers on my passenger seat.

I burned the candle last night and tried to remember again. The candle still did not smell even with the release of heat. And I still can’t remember.

Oh well … does it matter? I figure it can’t hurt to keep something that doesn’t mean anything to me. It meant something to her.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Resolutions and Other Pointless Stuff

Last year I did a post on my new year’s resolutions, all of which pretty much fell flat along the course of the year. Big shock, right? I mean isn’t that the story for everyone? Whoever came up with the concept of new year’s resolutions needs their butt kicked.

Yet, being the obsessive-compulsive weirdo that I am, I can’t help myself – I have to make some. Yes, I know it’s January 10th and you’re supposed to make resolutions effective the 1st, but better late than never. Besides, as Big White Hat said in his NYR post (paraphrased), I’ve got all year to do this. Here’s what I’ve decided on this year.

The token resolution:
Get back in shape.

Other more fun resolutions:
Get back to my recreational writing.
Stay in better touch with friends.

And here’s a resolution pact I’m making with Incrediboy:
Get him potty-trained!

We’ll see how this year goes.

On to other things … Hub and I ventured into the city last night for dinner with some friends and then we all took in a hockey game. I’ve only been to one other – I don’t follow hockey very closely but I do love it. Especially in person! Last night my Blue Jackets met the St. Louis Blues. It was a pretty exciting game, ending in a 3-3 tie in overtime and being decided with a sudden death match. In the end, St. Louis won (pooh), but we had a great time all the same. I think I may have to start watching hockey on TV.

Last Saturday I had opportunity to take a last minute jaunt up to see Naïve for the day. Hub had some business to take care of in the area and so Incrediboy and I tagged along. We came up Friday night and stayed with Martie, and then we hung out with Naïve and family on Saturday. Martie was kind enough to watch the boys for us in the evening so we could have a nice adults only meal at a great restaurant there, and then we were home by midnight. It was a short but well-enjoyed visit! I miss them all so much again though. My husband adores Martie and we are discussing moving into her guest room on a permanent basis. LOL.

Does anyone know anything about MySpace? I have a group of friends who have been pestering me to sign up for it. I’ve been digging my heels in because I’m really not interested in trying to keep up on another online community when I’ve been so lame about this one as it is … but I finally caved and set up an account. I really haven’t done much with setting my page up and probably won’t – but at least I can now harass my MySpace using friends with annoying comments, which was all I wanted to do anyway. Hee hee.

Oh, back to resolutions – if anyone knows of any cool blogger writing groups, I’d be obliged if you’d pass it on. I am a member of The Scheherazade Project but am interested in looking for other sources of inspiration. Hopefully I’ll be posting some creative writing within the week. Aren't you EXCITED!?!?

Hope you are all well. As always, thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Missing Man

How many opportunities does an average joe or josephine have in a lifetime to be a part of an actual honest-to-goodness historical moment?

I kind of had one today.

President Gerald Ford was laid to rest in his hometown of Grand Rapids today after a good week of memorializing the man with various stately honors. Gerald Ford served when I was just a kid, and admittedly my knowledge of that time in American history is not the best. I do know that his place in civil service way outreached his initial goals, and that he served at a time so shaky and disenchanted that I wouldn't take it on myself for anything. I know he was a man of unwaivering faith in a world of uncertainty, and that in and of itself I respect.

My bestest friend Naive just happened to be in GR today on an errand, and she thought enough to call me just as Ford's funeral was drawing to a close, because she wanted me to hear the jets fly over "in person", on the phone with her, as I watched the ceremony on television.

We chatted idly as we waited, I on my couch, and she standing in a parking lot hundreds of miles away from me. We discussed the health of our children and various things going on in our harried lives, and then she interrupted herself, squealing "Here they come!"

I could hear the distant roar of jet engines growing on the phone line, and my friend's voice grew in excitement with them. She described the first four F15s flying over her head, followed by the next and the next. Her awe was palpable, and I felt it as if I were there with her. As the screaming planes faded on the line, I watched them approach on my tv screen. They raced over the Gerald R. Ford Museum and burst apart in the Missing Man Formation. As I watched, I could hear Naive choking out, "OMG, I have chills!"

And I felt them too.

She told me she took a picture, and if it came out decent she'd send it to me. Later this afternoon this arrived in my email:

With the following note:

Hey sis,

Here is the picture of one set of the F15's flying overhead. It was so nice talking with you and sharing that little snippet of history together. Miss you even more though.

It seems strange to find a ray of happiness in a solemn occasion such as this, but the fact that my dear friend thought to share this with me really turned my day around. I have been struggling with many burdens lately ... It's wonderful to be reminded that you matter to someone just because. My best friend brought me to where she was and gave me a cognitive historical souvenir all my own today. That's pretty cool.

Thank you, sis. And Rest in Peace, Mr. President.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Post Holiday Post

While 2006 wasn't a total disaster, it wasn't my favorite year either. And while the turning of December 31 to January 1 is really only another new day, just as on a birthday you're merely one day older than the day before ... Somehow the changing of the calendar year lends new hope in its magical way.

I was anxious for the new year to begin.

And just as New Year's Day is just another day when you get down to it, so continue all the stresses and concerns of life that were there during that last year of only a few hours ago.

My Dad and I haven't always been on good terms. There have been points in time where we have gotten along well enough, but more often than not we've been at various points between walking on eggshells and not speaking to each other at all. I can't say as to why it's always been this way. Many people have told me it's because we're so much alike, but that doesn't quite make sense to me. But he had little tolerance nor patience with the racket of youth, and I never felt that I was good enough to please him. And for whatever the reasons, we never quite attained that sweet bond shared by most fathers and daughters.

A strange thing happens when you grow up, though - and especially when you have kids of your own. You develop an understanding for your parents that is simply impossible to attain in youth. You also learn to look past a lot of things, and truly believe your parents did the best they could in raising you. And you find that you need them in brand new ways.

My Dad has been diagnosed with cancer. It is malignant, and they won't really know how advanced things are until further scans and surgery can be performed. All this is coming up in the next few weeks, so I will be preoccupied.

It's funny how some things can make you forget what it was that built walls between you in the first place.

I may or may not blog further on this. But I just wanted to ask for prayers. Thanks in advance.