A Good Movie Plot

My mother was born in a hospital in a small town in South Dakota. She was the youngest of all girls.

My dad was born in the same hospital four days later. He was the youngest of all boys.

My two grandmothers met each other in the hospital, of course and joked about how they should trade babies so they would have a different sex child in the family. That did not happen!

But the two children grew up knowing each other from day one. My mother recalled, in kindergarten, that my father brought cupcakes in for his birthday four days after she had brought cupcakes in for her birthday. She wasn’t impressed at the time.

I’d say she wasn’t much impressed with my dad for most of the years they were in school. He was pretty wild for his time and she was very shy.

In high school, they dated some. My dad was a cheerleader. I still have a hard time imagining that but it was an activity with some status. He was part of the group of kids that went to mom’s house often.

I think he began to fall in love with her in those years. She was very cute and lots of fun.

During WWII, they both joined the military. My dad went into the CB’s and mother became a Marine. I don’t think they saw each much during those years but they exchanged letters a lot.

It was always expected that mother would marry another boy from home. But somewhere in there Daddy proposed to her. I believe they were both on leave at the time.

Mother said she was on a train coming home, having to decide which man to marry, when a vision of her deceased mother appeared to her. The vision told her it was alright to marry my dad.

Mother always said she knew in her heart that was the right choice for her and had no second thoughts from that moment on.

They were married in the small town in South Dakota with both families in attendance. Myself and my two brothers arrived not long after. A family was born.

I’ve always thought that my parents’ story would make the best plot for a movie. I’m thinking Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed would play my parents. In fact they even look a bit like my folks. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful tribute?

How I Learned To Forgive

When my son Ken got married, we were all very excited.  It seemed, at the time, like a perfect match.  As time progressed, we learned more about Amy and saw more of her true character.

She turned out to be a very hurtful person and we saw odd changes in our son.  Amy was also physically abusive to Ken and he showed many signs of an abused spouse.  He started to become less than his best self.

When the breakup finally came, our son was a broken man and Amy was blaming me for everything.  Ken cried harder than I had ever seen a grown man cry.

He grieved so hard for all his losses, including the two stepsons he had come to love so dearly.  He became almost non-functional for a time.

To say I came to hate Amy would be an understatement.  Truly I had never had such feelings for any human being in my life.  She had damaged my loving son, intentionally with no regrets.   I couldn’t believe my negative feelings towards her.

I was going to hurt her with my negative thoughts. Get revenge with my hateful mind. Maybe damage her the way she had damaged my sweet son.

But the person I was hurting the most was me.  I couldn’t sleep.  I had headaches.   My blood pressure was up and I thought about Amy all day.  My life was now being taken by her and I was allowing it to happen.

I had to learn to forgive Amy or become a cripple.   First step was wishing her no harm. That came with a lot of prayer and the counsel of others.  After months of work, I could honestly say I wished her no harm and did not fantasize about her death any longer.  (Yes, I had real issues with her!).

Next step was being able to wish her well.  That also was very hard.  I had to keep visualizing her two boys and wanting the best mother for them.  To do that, I had to think of her being her best self.

I don’t know that any of this has changed Amy but I am now able to sleep, have no more headaches and my blood pressure has returned to normal.  I don’t think about her anymore, except very rarely.  And when I do, I wish her all the best.

I am certainly the better for it.

Childhood Christmases

When I was a child, Christmases were a lot less commercialized and a lot more innocent. Gifts were often homemade and so were ornaments and decorations. More children believed in Santa Claus and wrote letters to him.

It was just a more innocent time. There was no TV or very little TV for most of my childhood. So we weren’t overloaded with all the Christmas stories and animated movies that we have now. We had to make our own entertainment.

The season started in about September when Mother began baking cookies and breads and making candy. She gave some to everybody she knew in little Christmas tins she collected all year. Everybody looked forward to their little tin of goodies every year. Some people returned the tins to get them refilled the next year.

Then the decorating started. Every room had its own theme. It took days to get the whole house done, but did it look spectacular. My Mother had some decorating favorites in those days. Lots of candles and lots of angel hair.

I remember the year the angel hair on the dining room buffet caught fire. My Mother was always in charge of noticing problems and sending out the alarm. My Dad was in charge of fixing said problems. And so it was with the fire. Mother saw the fire on the buffet and began screaming. Daddy, knowing his job, immediately jumped up and threw his drink on the fire. It worked and the fire was instantly out. To which my Mother responded, “Well, that’s going to leave a stain!”. Ah yes. That was a good year.

But most years were not so “firy”. Usually we just decorated and put up our tree like normal folk. Well, maybe not so normal. We never had a green Christmas tree my whole life. In those days, tinsel trees were very popular, so that’s what we had. A tall sparkly heartwarming silver Christmas tree. Every year. My entire childhood.

Oh it looked great when it was decorated. It really did! And we all decorated it – the whole family. Then we had our Christmas tree picnic.

We would turn all the lights off except the tree lights. Put a picnic blanket down by the tree, where we would all sit. Then we would eat cookies, drink cocoa, talk and sing Christmas carols. It was wonderful fun and sometimes would last for hours. It’s a tradition I carried on with my family too.

No one ever peeked at their presents before hand in our family. I’m not sure why. I guess it would have spoiled the fun of Christmas morning.

Mother would carefully wrap each present. She was gifted at that. She could tie beautiful bows and the tape didn’t even show. Her presents were works of art. I hated to unwrap mine because they were so beautiful.

We opened gifts on Christmas morning – at o’dark thirty actually, when my brother woke up. He was a real early bird.

Mother had coffee and OJ ready for us. We usually all got new pajamas to wear for the pictures. First the stockings were emptied. There was always candy and an orange in the toe.

I never understood the orange, until I was an adult. My parents lived through the Depression when fresh fruit was so hard to come by. To have an orange all to yourself then was a real treat and my Mother was just passing that on to us.

Then we got to open gifts one at a time, so everyone could enjoy each one. Sometimes one child was designated as “Santa Claus” and would hand out each present from under the tree

Most years we had more than we knew what to do with but I remember one year when I was pretty young. Christmas was little sparse. But a week later my parents told us that Santa Claus had brought some gifts that he had “forgotten” the previous week. We were beside ourselves with excitement. And were we ever popular in school that year. Santa Claus had come to our house TWICE!

I was grown before I figured out that my parents had to wait for the after Christmas sales to get us Christmas gifts. How hard that must have been. But they made it so wonderful for us.

My parents always did that. They made every holiday special. They ept a positive attitude when it wasn’t easy to do and protected the children from adult concerns. Even though they must have had many Christmases when they were uncertain how they would manage, I never felt fear or worry.

My childhood Christmas memories are filled with fun, laughter, good food, family, bright colors, a silver tree, and an occasional fire (but no one was hurt!). I hope my children can say the same.

My Neighborhood

Gramps and I moved to this neighborhood almost eight years ago.  We loved it from the start.  It was exactly what we were looking for.

First of all, it had sidewalks.  We had gone without sidewalks for about twenty-five years and that was the most important thing in our move.

Sidewalks make neighborhoods friendlier and closer.  They connect all the houses and make them safer.  The people in neighborhoods with sidewalks know each other and spend more time talking to each other.   It’s a proven fact.

Our neighborhood has great sidewalks.  Gramps and I walk them every evening and run into numerous neighbors and their dogs while we are out.  We stop and chat with them each time because we know our neighbors – all of them.

Our little village here is very safe because we all check up on each other.  We know when someone is gone on a trip or when someone is sick.  We know when a strange car enters the neighborhood or when someone has visitors.

We feel very comforted and cared for right now in these hard times.  Our younger neighbors have checked in on us and made sure we have everything we need.  Gramps and I know for certain we could go to anyone for assistance and get it with no questions asked.

Gramps and I are the unofficial grandparents of the neighborhood and used to be almost the only ones home all day.  But now during this health crisis, a great majority of the folks are home.  Our village now looks like Saturday, every day.

Everyone is out doing lawn work, washing cars and odd jobs around the house.  We are still visiting with each other and the dogs are still running up to greet us.

All the neat lawns and well-kept homes attracted us to this neighborhood.  We could tell that everyone was proud to live here and worked hard to keep their homes looking nice. Such a good neighborhood without an HOA!

Gramps and I love the diversity of our sweet neighborhood.  There are elderly, young families, children, teens, singles, people of color and lots of pets.  I think we would be bored if we were living in an all-seniors environment at this stage of our lives.

Now that we have found the neighborhood that is so perfect for us, we plan to never move again.  This is our last home.  We will stay here and be part of the best neighborhood for the next person who moves here.

Daddy

My father was somewhat of a wild child in his youth.  No one thought he would grow up to be the serious, successful man he became.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and didn’t always obey the rules.

He and my mother grew up together in the same small town, so they always knew each other.  I think they fell in love at a young age.  Maybe it was because my father was so much fun to be around.  I know he adored my mother until his dying day.

While trying to enlist in the service during WWII, he discovered he was color blind. Consequently, he joined the CB’s (Construction Battalion) and spent the war building bridges and other structures for the Navy.

He learned a lot about construction during his tour, which served him well the rest of his life.  Psychologically he never adjusted to military life.  That old thing about not obeying rules, especially if they didn’t make sense, really got in his way.  He always had a bit of a rebel in him.

After the war he married, went to college and had three children. Those were lean years, but fun according to him.  He always had a funny story to tell about any period of his life.

And living in a mobile home with a family while working and going to school on the GI Bill must have been hysterically funny, because his memories of that time were amazing.  I think my mother remembered having three babies in three years in a small mobile home a little differently!

Daddy was always the epitome of what a father should be. He was smart.  He was witty. He was honest.  He was fair to a fault.  He loved me completely.   He could fix anything. He was a gentleman.

He made mundane things fun.  His sense humor was legendary.  He could make the grumpiest people laugh.  It was magical to watch him.

And he had a way with kids.   Strange children would just slowly come up to him and climb onto his lap.  No words were said.  The children would just snuggle into my dad’s embrace as if they knew him their whole life.  Even he was mystified as to why it happened.

I have such wonderful memories of my father helping me with school work, questioning young boyfriends, driving us all on vacations, trying to punish the three of us children while hiding his smile, teaching our dog tricks, making Halloween costumes and teaching me to drive.

My dad taught me many things but mostly how to treat other people well.  Respect your elders.  Help the needy.  Say please and thank you.  Treat everyone with kindness.  He seldom got angry and was more often forgiving.

I did see him get really frustrated with the recurring plumbing problems in one house we rented and he threw a mop down the stairs.  That was as angry as I ever saw him and really pretty funny now as I remember it.

He wasn’t a perfect man but he was so perfect for me.  He died with dignity and grace after a long full life.  He left behind a wonderful legacy, to the following generations, of a great human being.

He was my Daddy my whole life.

Becoming A Granny

I was recently talking to Mac about the day he was born. Every time I told him an interesting fact about his birth day, he answered, “I don’t remember that.” (He’s 14 remember. Enough said!)

All that remembering got me thinking about the significance of that day – the day I became a Granny. Another Grandmother was born that day too – Carol, Mac’s other Granny or Grams, as she is called. Grams and I have talked about that special day and agree it is a day we will never forget for many reasons.

First, it’s the  day I became a Grandmother. Sounds simple but is quite profound. To see your daughter become a mother is quite an emotional, touching moment. Certainly more overwhelming than I was expecting or was prepared for.

I laughed, I cried, I applauded, I whispered, I hugged everyone and I fell in love with a new baby boy. What a feeling it is to instantly know you love someone completely, overwhelmingly, with all your heart. Except for my children, I can’t think of another relationship that begins so intensely and so immediately. And then lasts for a lifetime!

I knew at that first moment that this precious boy could have whatever I had, share anything of mine he needed and claim any of my resources that were necessary for him to succeed. If required, I would give my life for his. I knew that and I told him so, on his first day of life.

Mac brought a kind of joy that I had never felt before. It was different than the glow of childbirth. Not better or brighter but certainly as life changing and character altering. He filled a spot in my heart that could not have been filled by anyone but him. I couldn’t have been happier or more blessed.

I also became aware of my responsibilities as a Granny. I suddenly had a new job in the family – that of Grandmother, elder woman, Mother of Mac’s Mother. My new title was a bit sobering in the midst off such great happiness.

My mind was full of all the plans I had for being the world’s best Granny. I would be funny. I would be supportive and say yes as often as possible. I would learn sign language. I would encourage Mac to be kind, generous and fair. I would provide music. I would smock outfits for him. I would teach him games. I would take him outside. I would read to him. I would take him camping. I would teach him to swim and ride bike. I would write him letters. I would kiss him hello and goodbye, every time!

Hard to believe all this happened in an instant. But it was a very special moment of a very special day that I never want to forget.