Visit memories…

The boys eating icicles.

Our daughter humming as she went about her day.

Climbing piles of snow with our grandsons.

The boys helping me make monkey bread for breakfast.

Playing with LEGOs, dinosaurs and trains with our grandsons and son in law.

The boys singing songs, alone and together.

Brothers chasing each other and racing up and down stairs while being timed.

Emotional meltdowns, children and myself.

Tickles, giggles and belly laughs.

The smell of our daughter brewing coffee each morning.

A trip to Cabela’s to see the mountain of taxidermied animals, then out to lunch for gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

Eating fudge, pie and cookies together for dessert.

Playing Toddles Bobbles card game.

Pulling the boys on a sled behind the tractor mower.

Taking the boys to the dumps with great grandpa in hopes of seeing big machines. They were not disappointed.

Evening chats with our daughter and son in law after the boys were in bed.

Watching the newer Aladdin movie with our daughter and son in love for the second time, because we didn’t remember we had done that the last time they visited.

Seeing our daughter with her friends and seeing how their families have grown and changed.

Trying a new restaurant together.

Watching our daughter as a mother. Inspiring.

Toys everywhere.


Bittersweet silence…

I walked in the door at 6:00am, put my purse, and gloves away. Took off my hat and boots. The cat came into the mud room to greet me and tell me how glad he was that I was home. The house was strangely silent. No laughter, no singing, no dinosaur growls. No brothers telling each other to stop it, no putter patter of little feet. No women chatting and laughing. Just… silence.

Our daughter and her family have been staying with us for the past two plus weeks. Today, I took them to the airport for their long journey home. Their boys are 5 and 3. The three year old reminded us of his age regularly. The house has been full of noise. Good noise. Good noise fills my heart with happiness.

The sound of cousins playing “keep the balloons in the air”, or roughhousing with each other. The laughter of our daughter talking with her friends about parenting and world events. Sounds of LEGO pieces being batted around on the floor by the cats at night after everyone is in bed. The songs sung by our grandsons as they play alone and then together. Children’s books being read aloud, grandpas tickling and funny comments about everything, bath time play, our daughter’s happy humming that just seems to bubble out of her with no effort. Kids playing in snow and seeing front loaders and street graders! These are just a few of the many sounds that I will miss when they are gone.

But, just like the bazillions of pictures we took, I will put them in a book and in my memories, and I will allow them to feed my soul between video chats, until the next visit, when the sounds may be a bit different, maybe a bit more mature. And, maybe not.

Although the silence is nice, so is the noise. Thus, the bittersweet. The silence reminds me that I am getting older. The noise makes me feel alive. I need a balance of both.

May you find that which feeds your soul with happiness to take you through the winter seasons of life.

What I will miss…

My dad is 82 and lives with us. Not because he needs to, but because he is a social creature. Because it is cheaper to share bills when you are on a fixed income. As I jot this, I can hear him talking to himself down the hall, “Damn zipper!” He is in the laundry room getting ready for his morning walk down to the mailbox for the newspaper. It’s about a quarter mile round trip. He sometimes struggles with the zipper on his heavy jacket. I can get down and see that it is stuck on the fabric, he can’t see it over his belly.

When he is gone someday, I will miss hearing him talk to himself about his zipper, about his “damn computer” not doing what he thinks it should. I will miss hearing the obnoxious ear worm song that plays while he is playing his second chance on his lottery ticket.

Whenever I ask him if he wants to run errands, his typical reply is “sure! Why not. Too wet to plow, rain hurts the rhubarb.” I have no idea why he says that, he just does. I’ll miss that.

If he is going out to run errands without me, he always asks if I need anything from outside. My response is “a winning lottery ticket”.

His love language is acts of service. Unloading the groceries, washing the dishes (he washes, I dry and put away), mowing lawns, and so much more. He loves to crochet too. He crochets and donates afghans to Relay For Life which he has supported since my mother died of lung cancer. He has crocheted a baby Afghan for every grandchild (7) and every great grandchild (9) to date. And then he teases our daughter about wanting a tenth great grand. He always has a piece he works on when he watches TV. This is why I could find him dead in his tv chair with a half crocheted Afghan in his lap, see my previous post. I will miss all these things.

The cards that he mails to me, even though we live together, the cough from down the hall that lets me know he is still alive. The daily morning cup of green tea, that is prepared the evening before. The tea bag envelope in the coffee cup with a spoon, ready to open and pour when he wakes. The happiness, and touch of pride as he shares that he if finally making friends with the new cat. The teary eyes he gets when he talks about all his grands and great grands. All of these things I will miss.

And so, until the day that he leaves this earth behind, I will take his arm when we walk to slow me down to his ever slowing pace. I will treasure the sounds of my father, and his company throughout the days. And I will file away all the little things that make him so special to me, until, one day, those memories will be all I have left.


Each of us remembers and organizes our life differently. Some by grades, some by how old they were, others by what school they were attending at the time or the job they were working at. I organize my memories by what home I was living in at the time.

For instance, the memory of having my fingers scratched by a cat when I stuck them under a door happened at our 23rd Avenue home. We moved there soon after my birth and moved away around the age of five. I swallowed a dime while I lived there, jumped on a curtain, while jumping on a bed and the rod tore a deep cut into my eyebrow. My sister and I also wrote on a bedroom wall with sample lipsticks we found in a mischievous moment. That was also the first time I saw my brother get a spanking and I swore I never wanted one.

The sound of being awakened on Saturday mornings to the neighbors ducks under my bedroom window would be Saint Lucia Drive. That home also held memories of several pets that came and went, the smell of the dairy farms nearby, and having next door neighbors with the same last name as ours. We attended elementary school there too. I learned a bit of French in second grade and got sent to the principles office twice during those years. We lived there between the ages of five and ten.

George Way held most of my teen memories. Late night summer hide and go seek games, football in the middle of the street with the neighbor boys, some serious crushes, Confirmation in the Episcopal church, a first date, a couple more, my first job, and my first car. There are also memories of my grandmother, who moved into that home with us. Watching her polish her nails weekly, while telling me I should stop biting mine, helping her cut roses for the kitchen table, and her teaching me how to make a great mushroom omelette. I broke my schools long jump record, and took four years of self guided art classes that included calligraphy, graphic arts, and more.

I have so many memories that I hope to write in a book over the next several years. I am on question eighty of one hundred in a memories journal called A Grandparents Reflections. I bought one copy through some party based company years ago, but they don’t exist anymore. My father’s mother filled one out for me. I have reproduced it in my Mixbook digital photo book app and my father has filled one out also. I am trying to take a few minutes on a regular basis to ask my honey the questions and have him dictate the answers to me so our kids, grands and someday great grands can learn a little about the family they belong to and what shaped us and by extension, them, into the people they become. It’s a start. Writing a real book may have to wait for retirement, if I ever get a real one. I have started hitting down memories in a document, but I don’t get around to that as often.

Right now, this blog is a good way for me to document these years of my life. Sure, it’s just a snapshot of a day, but it’s something. I know my grands love looking through my photo books. Someday yours may too. If you are like many modern day folks, you take lots of pics, and store them all on your phone, sometimes struggling to find a specific picture when you need it. That Mixbook site I referenced earlier? If you download your pictures to a book, it can auto fill the book for you based on the digital time stamp of the photo. A quick, efficient way to print your photos in book format for posterity to view.

May your memories bring you happiness when you need a lift, clarity when you need to be reminded and understanding to those who will come after you.

A Gana memory…

My maternal grandmother’s nickname was Gana. Not sure what it stood for, where it came from, but we called her that as long as I can remember. My other grandmother was Grandma in Florida, because, yes, she lived in Florida. We continued using that name even after Florida became North Carolina, then Massachusetts. When she began having great grand children LC the name changed to Gigi, the initials GG spelled out. You guessed it, that stood for great grandma.

I have so many grandmother memories, but today I want to share one specific memory of Gana. At the age of ten, my folks decided she should no longer live alone due to some dizzy spells she had been complaining of. Doctors called it Ménière’s disease, my dad called it asking for attention. She was a highly independent woman. Her mother died when she was in her later teens, her father slipped into alcoholism, she raised her younger sister, putting her through college instead of attending herself. She married and go pregnant, only to have her new husband decide he wasn’t coming home from the war, he’d met a foreign woman. My mother never met her birth father. She remarried when my mother was twelve. By then she had developed a hardened shell after being a single, working mother in a predominately male world. He left after my mother graduated from high school, but kept in touch with my mother, and many years later, I was blessed to meet the man for a meal when he passed through the area. He died soon after.

I was an impressionable pre-teen when she moved in with us. She was always impeccably groomed. She visited a salon once a week to have her hair “done”, which meant curled and styled. Pantsuits were her clothing of choice, pants, a coordinating shirt, matching jacket and shoes, and of course her earrings. She had a huge jewelry box that she let me look through every time I used to visit. I now have it, with all her old jewelry in it. My children played with it, my grand daughters have played with it, and hopefully, the next few generations of girls will also play with it.

Every Friday, she would sit at the kitchen table and do her nails. Old nail polish was removed first, they were shaped with an emery board, then she would soak her fingers to soften the cuticles. An orange stick would push them back. After drying them, new polish was applied. She had two favorite colors, a gentle coral and a gentle mauve, both had a not glitter, but that metallic type luster to them. During the summers, I would often sit and watch the process, and we would talk. She would tell me that I had such beautiful fingers, and that I really should stop biting my nails. She would encourage me to work on my posture by saying that I had a beautiful swans neck and that I really should sit up straighter.

As she aged, and her sight worsened, she had someone at the salon she visited weekly do her nails for her. A few years after becoming a grandma myself, I found myself desiring to do my nails also. Maybe I was feeling old, maybe I was wanting to treat myself, and maybe, it was a way to stay connected to her memory, or all of the above. My grandmother was able to keep her polish nice for a week, why couldn’t I? Oh! Because I garden, clean and do other stuff my grandmother didn’t do. I tied gels a few times for special occasions, only to have to spend the next six months nursing my nails back to health. Recently, a friend introduced me to Red Aspen nail dashes. They are glue ons that look fairly natural. Since we leave tomorrow for a 20 year anniversary weekend trip, I thought it would be fun to have pretty nails. I bought and I applied.

So here’s the rub. I love the way the nails look and feel. They make me feel feminine, which I often don’t feel when I have been on a construction site all day. But, I also feel… fake? Kinda like I am putting on airs. When I see another woman with her nails done, I don’t think she is fake, or haughty, I just love seeing her nails and all the fun things people can do to them these days. And as I am writing this, the answer is already there. My grandmother did it to present herself in a certain way. She felt the need to look professional, confident and strong, even after she retired. It was part of her persona. Women today do it because they love feeling feminine, treating themselves because they deserve something nice too. And so, I am caught battling between two mindsets.

I am going to enjoy the nails for the weekend, but I am not sure if I will wear them regularly. Maybe just for those special occasions when I want that extra feminine touch. Just as my Gana had to be true to herself, I need to be true to myself. I am not my grandmother. I am me, I am Grammi.

May you see something beautiful and strong about yourself today, and embrace it instead of excusing it.

My Gana’s jewelry box.

Mothers and daughters…

It was an early morning for me. Well, actually no earlier than normal, I just had a “date” with my almost nine year old grandson planned. His elementary school is great at putting together various, usually, before school activities. Muffins with Mom’s, Donuts eight Dad’s, Time with Grandparents. His older sister would have joined us, but she has early morning orchestra practice.

I rushed to get my morning chores done and eat some breakfast. A bowl of quick oatmeal with freeze dried blueberries and pecans should hold me over til ten or eleven. I actually got on the road with what I thought was plenty of time to get there, forgetting that over the past few months, the commute has gotten a bit longer. Thirty minutes from door to door used to be perfect. Now I am looking at closer to forty. I hate being late, and could feel the stress rising in me, so I plugged in my earbuds and turned on my Brian Crain music. Shooting piano and orchestra would keep me calm for the remainder of the drive.

This morning, I deliberately put on the ring I inherited from my mother, and the one from my grandmother. My grandmother died when my kids were young, they didn’t really know her. My mother passed going on ten years ago now. She met her first great grandchild and died a year later. On the trip to the school this morning I reminisced about this. The tears flowed as I thought of all she missed out on, she would have had four great grands to date. My father lives with us and so often gets to see the greats. As I thought about it, I thought I would tell my grandson about three rings. I would tell him that my mom would have been there with us if she was still alive. My grandmother, not so much. The tears flowed again, as I realized that that was one good thing I learned from my mother. Attending the little hints is important, even if she was always late.

He was just getting shoes and socks on when I arrived. We drove the quick five minutes to school in the rain, and arrived in time. After signing in, we were handed a pack of papers and we were able to choose muffins and milk. The muffins were the humongous Costco muffins. My grand chose chocolate chocolate chip with chocolate milk, I went with blueberry. We sat and talked and ate. We talked about the rings, we went over one paper that was titled “Twelve things for grandchildren and grandparents to do together”. We marked off the ones we had, and circled the ones we hadn’t. Turns out we have never bird watched together or been to the movie theater together. We’ve done plenty of walks, cooking, gardening and meals out. But, no bird watching. Go figure. I will just have to get out my mini binoculars and my Birds of the Region book and we will have to do some. As we left for recess, they were offering spare muffins to all. My grand suggested that we get one for his sister. He chose the poppy seed for her, and I wrote a note on it, with love from Grammi. In the halls, he saw her teacher and asked if she would give it to her when she arrived back from band.

My grand asked me to stay after muffins and come to his classroom with him for indoor recess. I was blessed to meet a couple of his friends/classmates and his teacher, and watch him play his favorite motorcycle game on the computer. When other kids started to arrive, I offered to leave if he wanted me to, and he patted the chair next to him and said that he wanted me to stay. My heart was full.

I still have half the muffin in the van. I am sitting in a friend’s house hoping the cat will come out to say hello, but I am pretty sure that isn’t going to happen at this point. They are out of town and asked me to look in on her. From here it is off to WallyWorld (our nickname for WalMart) to grab a shirt to complete an outfit I want to send to my out of town grandson. His birthday is next week. Of course I will send the customary snack boxes of Goldfish crackers in rainbow colors. He lives in a different country where they can’t buy those. Then home to prepare for the last night of company during the Feast, and Sabbath. If I have any time left after that, and it stops raining, I have some all natural fertilizer that needs to get out of my dining room and onto our lawns. I’m not holding my breath on that though.

So far, it’s been a good day. I hope you find beauty in raindrops, and joy in the sound of them hitting the roof.


Isn’t it amazing how a scent, a sound, a word, can transport us to another place, another time?

When I smell mushrooms sautéing in butter with salt and pepper, I am a young teen, in the kitchen with my grandmother as she teaches me how to make a mushroom omelette. The sweet scent of a rose reminds me of her and my father. My dad taught me how to prune roses, and my grandmother cut a fresh bunch for the kitchen table every week. Chanel 5 perfume sends me back to watching my mom get ready to go out for a special occasion.

Blue jays cawing and I can almost hear my family laughing during our the yearly vacation we took to Carmel Valley, CA, each year while I was growing up. Memories of drinking Coke out of a real, glass bottle that came out of a vending machine near the ping pong table near the pool, stepping on the acorns, diving for pennies and eating goldfish crackers while playing cards with our grandma.

Today, it was seeing a Magnolia tree while enjoying my morning walk. I can’t say the word normally. It is always thought and said long and drawn out, with a southern drawl, usually in the voice of Foghorn Leghorn, the southern rooster of long ago cartoons. Suddenly I was sitting on the old gold, vinyl couch, with my cat on my lap, quietly watching Saturday morning cartoons. No one else was awake, the house was all mine, at least for a few minutes.

Another word that is always spoken, or rather, sung robustly, and repeated is Tradition! Tradition! Topol sung that in Fiddler on the Roof. I have seen it two times with my honey, and would see it again. Tradition is important to humankind, probably more so with us women. Our family traditions are what keeps us glued together, no matter how many miles may separate us between those times.

My heart goes to a peaceful place with these types of memories. I hope that my children have these types of memories. I yearn for my grandchildren to have them. I know that not everyone has good memories. I pray yours are. If there are not, today is a good day to start creating new ones. Here’s to new memories.