The Measure Of A Memory

Gramps has been busy on his old computer finding movies we have taken of Mac over the years, editing them, adding music and titles, and then moving them over to a new storage before everything goes to the new computer. (Thought you could just plug in the new one and start going, right? WRONG!!!!!)

In the process, we have been sort of re-living Mac’s early years. It’s been a real trip down memory lane.

And I realized, as I was watching Mac at age five at our annual July 4th fireworks party, that I was really there. I could hear his little-boy voice asking questions. I could feel the anticipation of setting up the fireworks in the back yard. I was actually laughing at the silliness of the adult men bragging about who had the biggest ordnance. I was counting the heads of the little kids to make sure no one was in the fire zone. I was checking to make sure everyone had a glass of refreshment in their hands.

I mean I was there! I believe I could almost smell the sparklers burning.

That’s how powerful a memory can be. It’s not just remembering an occasion – it’s reliving it with all your senses.

It’s like taking a trip but with no luggage, no vehicle, no stay in a hotel, no long hours on the road or in the air and no cost!! It’s all there in your head, just waiting for you.

Memories are precious treasures. They are personalized destinations. They are your own books that you can read over and over. And anything can trigger a memory – a photo, a smell, a word, a touch, a thought. But the trip is free and there is no age limit. They are great indulgences during quiet alone times or the current favorite, forced quarantine.

After watching the movie, I had all the feelings of having been there – the memory of the memory. so to speak. I was still smiling and chuckling over the funny things done and said. My heart was still overflowing with the sweetness of the children and the joy of having the entire family together. I was still in awe of the fireworks display and proud that we had organized such a wonderful evening for everyone.

All those feelings were rushing over me. And the best one was knowing that we had provided a fantastic memory for everyone else.

You Are My Favorite

I have six grandchildren – five boys and one girl. They range in age from fourteen to twenty-three.

I tell each one they are my favorite. They each smile and laugh and say “You say that to all of us!”

And that is true! I do say it to each one, every time I see them. “You are my favorite,” because each one is, in their own special way, my favorite.

Mikey is my gentle giant. He is soft-spoken with a beautiful smile, a loving heart and giving ways.

Jake has the beautiful eyes and long hair of a male model. He is loyal, musical, loves history and is truly fair and honest.

Jimmy is my computer whiz. He finishes every job he starts, is very logical and can entertain himself when necessary – i.e. he likes his alone time.

Matt is the social butterfly. He is loud and boisterous, loves music and astronomy and has a wicked sense of humor. He can’t sit still for more than five minutes but can talk forever.

Mac is another computer nerd who wants to fly helicopters when he graduates. He is very loving, shy and funny. He saves his money for computer parts.

Katie, my one and only girl, is the artist who loves to draw and gets excited about pencils and pens. She is very creative, maintains an entire imaginary world in her head and loves cosplay. She is a true free spirit.

Can you see now why each one is my special one? How could they not be?!!

More important, I want each to know it – to hear the words out loud from me as often as possible. They are special as they are. It is unconditional love from me to them.

That “special” connection will always be there, no matter where we all are no matter our age or circumstance. Nothing will ever be able to break that bond.

And besides, I have to keep telling each one so the others won’t get jealous!!!

Think I made all this up? Check out comics.com/pickles by Brian Crane for January 14, 2021!

20 Questions To Ask Your Grandchildren

Do you have grandchildren in another state, as I do? Do you have grandchildren nearby, as I do? Do you visit them on the phone more often than you see them in person, as I do? Especially these days?

Do you find the conversations sometimes lagging when you can’t think of something to say? Or do you just ask the same questions every time?

Would you like to spice up those talks and maybe learn more about those precious kids? How about share a laugh or a secret? Maybe even let them ask you a question or two, or is that too scary?

Want some assistance all you grandparents out there?

Here are some helpful suggestions.

1 – What is one thing you would change about the world?

2 – Imagine you just won a million dollars, what would you buy first?

3 – What is something that helps you fall asleep at night?

4 – If you could change your whole name, what would you change it to?

5 – What makes you happy?

6 – How do you deal with angry feelings?

7- What is the best thing that ever happened to you?

8 – If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

9 – What do you think is the most difficult job in the world and why?

10 – If we had to leave today and you could only take one thing, what would that one thing be?

11 – What do you look forward to when you wake up every day?

12 – What is the question you always wanted to ask but didn’t?

13 – What is the worst thing you have ever eaten? Why was it so bad?

14 – What is your favorite word?

15 – What are four things your friends would say you are really good at?

16 – If your favorite color had a smell, what would it be?

17 – What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

18 – How would you describe a perfect day?

19 – If you were allowed to make the biggest mess EVER, how would you do it?

20 – Which sense is your favorite, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or feeling? Why?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother loved to cook.  That is to say, she loved to bake.  Everyday meals were not her forte, but desserts and special occasions were her real love.

She had a real sweet tooth (which I inherited!), and so we had a dessert at every meal. Yes, even breakfast had something sweet and yummy.

Mother was well known for her homemade pies, especially apple.  The crust was always crispy and golden.  Daddy loved her apple pie with a slice of cheese on it.  I think he learned that growing up in South Dakota.

Christmas was a big baking time.   She would start in September, making cookies, candies, bars and pies. Everyone would get something – the mailman to the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to all the neighbors.

There was always something in the cookie jar and more stacked in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion.  Mother never went to visit anyone empty-handed. That was her rule, “Never go out with a bare face or an empty hand.”

The one item that brings back the most memories of my childhood is Mother’s chocolate chip cookies.  Just the aroma of the cookies baking makes me feel like a girl in her kitchen, helping her bake.  I suddenly feel all warm and safe with a smile on my face, eager to see how the cookies turn out.

Then there is the joy of tasting the first warm cookie from the oven.  That was always “cook’s treat” at Mother’s house.

My daughter feels the same about my chocolate chip cookies. When she takes a bite now, she closes her eyes and sighs, “Ah, my childhood in a cookie!”

Her son, Mac, says my chocolate chip cookies are the best.  Little does he know he’s talking about Mother’s recipe, passed down through all these years.

And I bet his children and their children will say the same.

Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T water
  • 12 oz. semisweet chips

Cream sugars and Crisco.  Add eggs.   Sift salt and soda with flour. Add to creamed mixture.   Add water. Add chips by hand.   Drop onto cookie sheet by spoonful . Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

How The Barter System Works In Coronavirus Land

Gramps and I did not do any stock-up shopping at the beginning of the virus outbreak.  We had what we needed at the time and the thought of the world running out of toilet paper never occurred to us.

So last week we were running low on paper products, including tp.  But by that time the stores were completely empty of anything paper.  Even Amazon was sold out.

As it happened, I made chocolate chip cookies one day and thought I should share them with our daughter and grandson Mac.  Mac says I make the “best” chocolate chip cookies ever.  Music to my heart!

They assured us they would love some cookies.  So over to their house we went with cookies in hand.

We had a lovely visit.  We talked and shared and laughed.  Until the subject of toilet paper came up.  How many stores did you go to?  How many rolls did the store have?  How many rolls do you have?

Finally we confessed we were down to three rolls.  (Can you believe this is what we’re talking about?!).  Our daughter offered to give us some from her supply, as she had just found a large package the day before.

We were saved!  Chocolate chip coolies for tp.  The going rate appears to be one dozen cookies for four rolls of toilet paper.  Not bad really.  They stay fed and we stay dry.

My Favorite Possessions

I think about the things I would try to save if there were a fire in my house.  Those objects that are precious, have memories attached to them and can’t be replaced.   Those possessions that can give you a hug and a good feeling just by being there, being seen and being touched.

I have several of these irreplaceable items Some are out to be seen.  Some are safely tucked away.  And some are used daily.

My quilts are very important to me, but one is especially precious.  It’s hanging on the wall in our guest bedroom.  It’s so valuable to me because it is made from linens stitched by my grandmother and mother.  There are tablecloths, towels, napkins, dresser scarves and doilies in the quilt.  Then it is bordered in colorful handkerchiefs.

I can just feel those women around me when I am in the presence of that quilt.  It’s like a great big hug.  It speaks to me through its stitches and linens.  I would definitely grab it first, if there was a fire or a flood.

My great-grandmother’s bedroom set is in our bedroom.  Gramps and I have used it since we were married.   My grandmother was born in that bed.  It is made of cherry wood and is very ornate – very Victorian.  It has a tall headboard and footboard.

I can’t even tell you how cuddled and comforted I feel in Gram’s big bed.  I can just imagine the generations of women dusting those wooden boards and changing the linens and fluffing the pillows.  It’s an honor to keep up the tradition of loving my bed.  My dilemma?  I’m not sure I could carry it out in a disaster.

Now my mother’s silver tea set is very portable in case of a calamity.  It’s tucked away in a cupboard because we never use it anymore.  That’s not to say I don’t get it out and pet it periodically.  My mother had it sitting on the buffet, always polished and always shiny.  It reminds me of her in many ways.  She too was always polished and shiny.

I have some of my Daddy’s tools, which also are not very useful but are a treasure to me. He was a carpenter in the CB’s during WW II and was a general all-around fix-it kind of guy.  To have those tools that were used and touched by him so many times is a gift for me.  When I see them, I can almost hear him working and banging away on some project. Thinking of it now almost brings tears to my eyes.

Then there’s the diamond ring that Gramps gave me many years ago as a birthday present.  I wear it all the time.  It’s a daily reminder of his love and devotion to me. Coincidentally, the large diamond in the center is surrounded by six smaller diamonds, exactly the number of grandchildren we have.

The whole ring is a little remembrance of my entire family – all three generations.  I don’t go anywhere without it.

So obviously, all these possessions could not be gotten out of the house very rapidly.  But they could in a slow evacuation.  And you know what?  It doesn’t matter if I have any of these items really.

Because I carry all the people and memories in my heart, where they are safe from every disaster and can never be lost.

Goodbye Libby

Libby was a swell dog. She was happy to see anyone who came through the front door. She would run around the room and wag her tail as if to say, “Oh boy, someone to play with me!”

After awhile she would calm down and lay at your feet quietly. And she would do almost anything for a treat.

She was Mac’s dog, for his whole life. Until two days ago when we all had to say goodbye to a swell dog.

Mac loved her very much. They played together and slept together as most boys and doge do. He fed her and watered her – his daily chore. They were very close as most boys and dogs are.

When it was time to say goodbye to Libby, Mac was right there by her side. He held her close until the end.

Even though he was grieving, he didn’t back away. Even though he was sad, he held her. Even though he was afraid, he remained brave.

Mac talked to Libby in a soft voice. He told her what a good dog she had been, how much fun he had with her and how important she was to him.

It was so important for Mac to do all this but it was just as important for Libby to receive such a send off. She needed to feel safe, loved, warm, in familiar arms and surrounded by a voice she knew

She got the proper medication, so she was calm, comfortable and relaxed the whole time. That was important as it took a few hours for Mom, Dad and Mac all to get to the Vet’s from different points.

The final minutes together were very meaningful for the whole family and provided a thoughtful closure for all of them

The hardest part now is dealing with the quietness at home without Libby there. She has left a definite hole in the lives of Mac and his family.

She will be missed for quite some time especially by Mac. He has not known life without Libby. He will have a lot of adjusting to accomplish in the future.

But he will do fine because he not only lived well with Libby, he let go of her well also.

When it was necessary, he gave her the best goodbye ever.

The Best Of Retirement

I started working at age sixteen and retired at age fifty nine. My retirement came suddenly and unexpectedly. I had no plans or expectations. I was completely blindsided and unprepared.

The first year was difficult. I didn’t know how to feel about myself with no job and no income. There were feelings of worthlessness, confusion and anxiety. It wasn’t a good transition. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

Slowly I started to fill my time with some worthwhile activities. They certainly helped but I was still floundering.

At the same time, my first grandson was born. Now that was super! I had plenty of time to spend with the baby and I did. What great memories I have now.

That started the formation of my philosophy of being a Granny. I knew then I wanted to be intentional about my actions and positive about my attitude.

I started sewing for my grandson and found some likeminded women to sew with. Life was getting better and I was more active.

It seemed the more I sewed and the more I joined other women who sewed, the happier I became. So, of course, I did more . . . . and more . . . . and more.

Now I am a quilter who belongs to six sewing groups – from a quilting bee to a wool embroidery group to an applique group. And my grandson, now 14, is one of six grandchildren that I have sewn many items for.

Retirement is such a blessing to me and I am busier now than when I was working. My life is also much more joyful. I don’t have to rush or be in a hurry. I have no deadlines, unless they are self-imposed. I can take my time now.

Retirement gives me time to do what I want, when I want. That includes more activities at church, lunch with the girls, sewing and maybe a good nap now and then.

Gramps and I have more time together. We talk more, share more, laugh more and hold hands more. We have time to go out for dinner, see movies, visit with friends and sing in the church choir.

Combining grandchildren with retirement is absolutely heaven sent! I can’t think of a better reason to keep working to retirement age.

In a word, retirement gives me time. Over the years I have learned the best ways to spend that precious commodity to enrich my life and my family’s life.

In the beginning, I wasted my time and I regret that very much. But no more. Every moment is a gift and it only comes once.

I have plans now. I have expectations of myself. I’m looking forward to every day. I’m excited. Know why?

I’m retired!!!!

 

My Phone, My Friend

I may be an elder woman but there are many modern technologies I love.  My television is very nice to have, even though the old black-and-white movies are the best.  My computer is a must and I use it daily for blogging and such.  But my favorite all-time, high-tech invention is my phone.

Remember when all you did with a phone was make a call?  I remember.  In fact, I remember rotary phones, phones on the wall with long twisty cords and party lines.  Our ring was two longs and a short.  It’s been long time!

I recall very well getting my first iPhone.  It was my birthday and I told Gramps I wanted one of the phones where I could scroll all my photos from bottom to top.  I didn’t even know what it was called!

I got the phone.  When I took it out of the box, my then-five-year-old grandson grabbed it out of my hand and began tapping buttons with his little thumbs.  Within seconds, he declared, “Granny, you need some apps!”

I didn’t know what apps were either.  I’ve come to learn he meant games, games and more games.  Which, of course, I now have, because I am the Granny and Granny always has entertainment for grandchildren.

But back to my phone.  It does make calls, of all kinds.  Local, long distance.  I suppose it would call the moon, if I knew anyone there.  But making calls is the least of its gifts.

My phone keeps me in touch.  In touch with the world, really but most especially with those I love.  We can, of course, call and talk to each other, which is a real treat.  We can write instant letters to each other at any time.  That is most precious to me.  I can keep up with all the generations all the time.

My phone keeps me safe.  I’m always just seconds from getting help at the push of a button.  That is huge in my world.  At my age, as much as I drive alone to events and gatherings, that support is priceless.

My phone keeps information and data always at the tip of my fingers.  I have phone numbers, addresses, photos, notes, calendars, reminders, deadlines, etc., all at my beck and call.  If it were all on paper, I wouldn’t be able to carry it, much less access it.

My phone gets me where I want to go.  The GPS, named Helen, is very reliable.  She speaks in a very monotone voice, pronouncing everything a little bit weird.  But she seems to know where she is going, so that’s okay.  It’s very reassuring to know Helen is always there, always awake, always ready to travel with me.

My phone takes great photos.  Can you even imagine being able to say that about a phone?  As a result, I have a wonderful record of places, events, friends, quilts, family and projects.  Many of them are completely irreplaceable and would never have been taken without a small phone being so handy in my purse.

My precious little phone is a real life-line and I can’t go a day without using it.  Yet it hasn’t been that many years that it has been a part of my life.  How quickly I have adapted!

Yet it can also be a nuisance.  Sometimes I think If I hear that ringtone one more time, I will scream!

Oops, there’s my phone.  Gotta go!

See you tomorrow!

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.