Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One of my greatest gifts is called Trisha

One of the best gifts I received in my life was my daughter, Trisha.  I know every parent says their kid was the best of all but Trisha was and is.  As a baby she was always happy and very quiet.  She loved playing alone and never woke me.  I had her crib in my room and I would open my eyes in the morning there she was sitting in her crib smiling at me.  I was in awe of this little girl and deeply in love with her.

When she was around three years old she wanted to learn how to read.  She was very sure she could figure out reading so, I read to her all the time.  I even got so I would read my novels out loud for her.  She didn't care what I read just so long as I read to her.  I could see the magic in her eyes as she started to learn words.  We would sound them out and we would look them up.  To her it seemed to be a great treasure hunt.  One of her gifts to me was exploring words and meanings.

We always had structure in our home.  Spiderman was her favorite TV show and came on at four o'clock in the afternoon.  So I would tell her around 3:30 P.M. it is almost time for Spiderman.  She would pick up her toys so nothing would interfere with her show.  After Spiderman Daddy came home and we ate dinner, at the table and then bath and then... Books were read.  Sometimes Daddy would read Louis L' Amour novels about cowboys to her. Daddy's favorite books were the Sackett series and soon became Trisha's favorite.

Her brother Adam became her "audience" to read to.  Then along came James and the boys would giggle and clap when Trisha read to them.  She wanted to teach them to read but both were too rowdy to sit still very long.  She would not give up on them and tried everyday to teach them words.  So we started learning a new word everyday at the dinner table.  We would look it up and use it in sentences.  It does not surprise me in the least that Trisha is an English teacher.

When Trish became a teenager she decided she wanted a job at McDonald's.  Off she went on her own to apply for a job.  The manager told her she was too young but to come back when she was old enough.  She would stop in periodically and remind him when her birthday was.  And, lo and behold, she started working on her birthday!  Trisha made the biscuits back when the kids had to be at work at 4:00 a.m. and really make the biscuits!  Sometimes she would close and then be back in few hours to open up.  She loved working at McDonald's.

By now I was a single parent and was raising three kids on little more then minimum wage.  Trisha started helping with groceries.  At first she would bring home dinner once a week.  What a great help to me that was but she didn't stop there.  Soon she wanted to pay me "room and board".  I know most of her check must have gone to help our family out.  She never complained about having to buy her own senior pictures, class ring and stuff.  It seemed to me she felt it was an honor.

Trisha has always worked and gone to school.  Her interests are so varied it took her forever to declare and a major and stick to it.  She now has a masters a degree.  She did it all working in the fast food industry while she went to school.  She also took on marriage and motherhood.  She is married to a reader and their son is a reader.  I think fun to them is when a new book comes out and they wait in line at midnight for it to go on sale.

We lived apart for many years and I rarely got to see her and her family.  We live closer now and we have seen each other more in the last few months then in the last 20 years.  I am so very honored to get to know her, her husband and her son.  To this day when I look in her eyes she smiles and my heart melts.  I am so in awe of the woman she has become, Trisha is without a doubt one of my heroes and a great mentor.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gifts From My Mother

Fall always makes me think of my mom.  She loved fall the best of all seasons and she loved to go get apples from every orchard in the county.  She loved the leaves, the smells, the way the air felt and she gave that love to me.  Mom gave me many gifts over the years and I am grateful I was able to share that with her before she left earth school.  This is part of a letter I sent Mom on one Mother's Day.  (Picture is of Mom and baby me)

Dear Mom,

I want to thank you for the many gifts you given me over the years.  Not the material things that wear out or get put in a box somewhere but the real gifts of love.  Do you remember watching the "Wizard of Oz" and eating popcorn drenched in butter and "sticky spoon fudge"? (Mom could never get fudge right) Those things taught me to enjoy movies and the "goofs" in life.

Do you remember reading "The Quick Running Squash", "The Teeny Tiny Woman", and the "Snow Princess" to me?  I do like it was yesterday.  Thank you for reading so many stories with all the drama and feelings you could.  It brought the books to life and taught me to enjoy reading and drama.  I can still hear you reading, "I    think    I    can ,   I   think   I   can".

I used to love watching you play that old beat up piano we had when I was 6 or 7 years old.  I can remember your fingers jumping all over the keyboard playing boogies and you played such wonderful melodies like "Rhaspsody in Blue".  You sang a lot and some pretty silly songs, too.  The radio or the records were always on.  You listened to everything, Bach, Hank Williams, Elvis, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles.  I could never ever thank you enough for the gift of music.  Music has always been my best friend and it is always there for me in my darkest times and the best times.

You also gave me the gift of sitting still.  I sit out in my yard and watch the birds, the river and the roses grow.  I watch the ants go marching by with their prize morsel of food.  I watch the butterflies and the breeze gently blow in the birch trees.  And if I am really lucky and sit very still a garden snake slithers by in the grass.  In winter I sit very quiet and I can hear the snow falling.  A lot of people don't know you can hear a snowflake but I do because you taught me.  And I still make at least one snow angel every year.  I do all that with a deep appreciation of nature and a real sense of God the Father.

How do I ever thank you for giving me so many wondrous gifts?  They say the best way to thank someone is to pass it on, I have done that. Your gifts to me are now spanning the generations to my children and my grandchildren.  When my children and grandchildren all came home in March one of the first things we did was get out the old books and I read to them, we played the stereo, popped popcorn and sang silly songs and told spooky stories.

I know many years from now when you and I are long forgotten these gifts will live on in my family thanks to you.  I love you Mother, not because I have to, but because I want to.  Just like your gifts... You didn't have to.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Grandmother, the Greyhound Bus and Crocheting

I spent the other day emailing back and forth with my cousin Sally.  We really do not know each other very well because I grew up in Michigan and she grew up in California.  The other day was the first time we have ever communicated with each other.  We had one thing in common, a tremendous love for our Grandma.  I was the lucky one, Grandma lived in Michigan. Sally and I spent the day talking about our families and our Grandma.

Life was so easy back in the 1950's and 1960's.  We lived exactly 100 miles from my Grandma's house.  Starting at 8 years old I was allowed to take the Greyhound bus alone to Grandma's town.  The bus stopped along the way for snacks or lunch and the bus driver would have me sit at his table.  When we reached my destination, there was my Grandma peaking through the open door of the bus.  I was so so happy to see her (It still brings tears to my eyes).  Those trips made me feel so important.  I went on the weekends a lot and spend most of the summers at her house.  (The picture is of Grandmother)

I don't remember watching TV much at Grandmas' but I do remember sitting in "my" recliner next her recliner.  She would knit and crochet all day long and I would sit for hours watching her.  She made so many afghans, to this day I wonder how many she did make.  I was never bored, I was happy to just sit in the same room with her.  When I was a little older she taught me to crochet.  She said, "If you can make a slip knot and follow directions, you can crochet."

I made who knows how many granny squares from her left over yarn.  She had an oval red vinyl ottoman and we kept my crochet supplies and granny squares in it.  I felt so special sitting there crocheting with Grandma and having my very own supplies and ottoman.  I am so grateful my mother saved that ottoman for me.  I still have my ottoman and when I open it I can still smell my grandma.  I often wonder what happened to all the granny squares I made but I am so honored to have my ottoman.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Son arrived in Iraq - One year to go.

My son made it to Kuwait or Iraq or someplace over there.  He was able to post on his Facebook page and then he was gone.  I miss him already.

Jim is the youngest of three.  His dad and I were divorced shortly after his first birthday.  Not having a man in the house make him a stronger person.  He always had good male role models, not because of anything I did, he put them in his life on his own. These men were teachers, fathers of friends, and men he knew through a club I was a member of and Grandpa.  They were Marines, Army vets, auto mechanics and even an astronaut!  The astronaut sent him pictures of planes that had been declassified.  Those pictures were his pride and joy.  (The picture is from an airshow in California.) 

I will never forget the day I felt his pain of all pains.  It was when the space shuttle crashed.  I knew he was crushed and in shock.  I let him stay home from school so he could watch the news feeds.  It was the first time I couldn't kiss away his hurt or put a cold cloth on it. The true gift of parenting, I have learned, is not just holding them when they hit a homerun but holding them when they strikeout.

Jim always wanted to be in the Army Infantry and he always wanted to live in Texas.  It is all he talked about as a boy.  Today his home is in Texas and he is in the infantry 15 plus years.  I wonder how many men actually live the dreams of their boyhood?  He is a self-made man for sure and he should feel great pride in his accomplishments.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Julie, Julia, Worry and Where is Spell Check?

I saw the movie "Julie and Julia" the other week.  I thought I need something like that to busy my days.  I tend to eat out of boredom and stress and I need to loose 35 pounds.  So, I think throwing a pound or two of butter a day in the mix is probably not a good idea for me.  Most people that know me know a bottle or two of wine, although welcome, is an even worst idea.

For today I will journal.  I have never kept a journal for any length of time so who knows how this will go?  Many people over the years, therapists, sponsors, friends and the like, have all suggested that I journal.  I have gotten beautiful journals, cute journals and plain old journal journals as gifts.  I have bought the perfect journal many times.  I even have the perfect pencil and pen sets but I just don't "do it".

I get hung up on my grammer or worst my spelling.  And frankly, my brain types faster then my fingers are able to move.  To top all that off, my sister and my daughter are english majors.  I always worry my emails, birthday cards and anything at all I have written (except checks) will come back with red marks all over it.  Good Lord, they may even demand I diagram my sentences!

The grammer thing started with my maternal grandma.  She demanded correct english and even had an "ing" box,  If one said fishin' or huntin' a nickel had to be put in the "ing box".  From there downline to my mom.  Mom didn't even allow babies to talk baby talk.  Nope the baby had to ask for "water" not "wa-wa".  None of that damaged me of course, just my ability to write stuff.  And I always fancied myself a writer as a career. However, one has to write to be published!