Dustballs, dirt and grime
Vacuums, dusters, mops and brooms
Sweat, fatigue, repeat.
Dustballs, dirt and grime
Vacuums, dusters, mops and brooms
Sweat, fatigue, repeat.
In this year of celebrating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and remembering all the years in our past, I have been thinking a lot about my parents. They have both passed on now and I have so many questions I wish I had asked them while they were still able to give me the answers.
My parents knew each other their whole lives. They were born in the same town four days apart. My mom was the youngest of all girls and my dad the youngest of all boys. My two grandmothers were in the hospital together and joked about how they should trade babies so they would have a different-sex child in the family.
And those two babies grew up and got married (I always thought that was a great premise for a movie). So where are all the stories of growing up together? Going to school together? Seeing each other around town? Knowing each other forever? I wish I had asked.
And I don’t know exactly how they got married. They didn’t date in High School, so it must have happened during WWII. I wish I had asked how my dad proposed and how they planned the wedding. Did they have a honeymoon? What did they wear? How did they know they were right for each other? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked what prompted them both to enter the service. My dad tried to enlist and found out he was color-blind, which meant he could only go into the Navy Seabees – Construction Battalion. My mother, believe it or not, was a Marine. I think she enlisted because of her sister Irene, who also joined the Marines. But why the Marines? I wish I had asked,
I wish I had asked them how they felt about the war. Were they ever afraid, confused, proud, ashamed or conflicted as an American? Were they glad to be in the Military? Sorry they joined? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked them how things were after the war. They were married and started having children right away. My dad was in college on the GI Bill. I think they were living in a mobile home park. Sounds like an “I Love Lucy” segment, doesn’t it? That couldn’t have been easy. But how did they manage? Was being a veteran a proud thing? How did they feel? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked them about their thoughts of early parenthood. My mother had three children in three years while my dad was going to school. And she had no family nearby. But I never heard the stories. Were they too horrible? Just forgettable? What? I wish I had asked.
How I wish I could sit down with both of them and ask these and other questions. When I had the chance, I didn’t think of it or it didn’t seem necessary. Now that it’s too late, I’m thinking of so many things only they can answer.
My advice to others – ask the questions NOW!! Don’t wait!! And if you are the elder in your family, write down all the stories for the younger ones. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait until someone else thinks of it. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Just don’t wait. Do it NOW. Because then it will be too late and they will say – I wish I had asked.
This week Mac’s parents have gone to Florida for a little R&R. Gramps and I will have Mac for three days and the other grandparents will have him for three days. Share and share alike we say.
He came with the usual bag of clothes, a stuffed animal and the dreaded electronic gizmos. Although when he is at our house, he likes to use my phone because it has the “good games”.
Immediately upon entering the house, Mac asks for my phone and retreats to his bedroom. (Really the guest bedroom but we call it “his bedroom” while he is here)
This means there is no talking, no interaction, no relationship going on between us and him. This is totally unacceptable to Gramps and me. So we have put a limit on electronics usage in our home and especially no devices at mealtimes.
Instead we do other things. Mac loves to ride his bike, so we do that often when he is here. Good for him and good for us.
He and Gramps have explored the uncharted areas around our house and gone bird watching many times. They always have a tale to tell when they get back from their biking trips.
Gramps and I walk around the neighborhood every evening and Mac either walks with us or rides the bike around. Walking in our little neighborhood means greeting other neighbors, walkers, dogs and children playing in the street. So Mac joins in the conversations and pettings. It takes a while to get around the block but it’s a wonderful journey.
Of course, we play board games too. Our current favorite is Monopoly. Mac always wants to be the banker. I always use the thimble as my playing piece and Gramps always wins. I don’t know how he does it.
One evening we watched “How To Train Your Dragon” in 3D. The best part was looking at each other in those glasses and laughing out loud. We had popcorn and everything. Lots of fun!
The next day we took Mac out in the boat. What a grand day that was! Perfect weather. Perfect water. Perfect company. We did some fishing – caught nothing but shrubs. We let Mac take the wheel with Gramps a couple times, which thrilled him to no end.
We all got wet and wind blown. We laughed. We talked a lot. And Gramps showed Mac the sonar depth finder. (It’s a guy thing)
The last morning, before our handoff to the other grandparents, was designated as “lazy day”, so Mac played electronic games to his hearts’s content. He laid on his bed giggling to himself.
He told me later, “I love my down time”.
Our three days with Mac were packed with fun, conversation, interaction, learning and love. I can’t wait until the next time. I’m already making plans.
Think it’s not worth the trouble? Making things for the holidays or anytime, for that matter? Think no one will really appreciate your effort? Think it is all a waste? Think again, my Sweetie!
I believe the biggest and best gift you can give anyone is your time. It is precious, unique and will never come again. Any time you are thinking about someone, doing for someone or sharing with someone, it is a gift to be treasured and held in the highest regard.
So spending the time making a gift or fashioning a decoration or baking food or brightening up the yard is a gift of your time and thought. Do I believe you should do EVERYTHING – NO!!!! That’s a killer and a misuse of your time. But adding your personal touch to each day and especially each holiday is very doable.
And the memories it makes! Oh Boy! I have the best memories of my mother baking for every occasion. Pies! Cookies! Candy! Cakes! Everyone enjoyed her handiwork. Everyone was blessed by her efforts. And she loved doing it.
That’s the double blessing of homemade. The maker is as happy making the gift as the receiver is getting the gift.
I love spending time on a project for one person. The whole while I’m thinking about them. How they will look when I give them the gift. How they will enjoy it. How it will benefit our relationship. On and on I think, until the project is done.
Then I get to really see their face when I give it to them and watch them enjoy it and feel our relationship deepen. What could be better than that?
I remember when we had young children, we decided to each have small blank books one Christmas. In each person’s book we would write down the gifts of our time we were giving that person. I had things like: “I will make your bed” from my daughter, I will give you a back rub” from my son and “I will bring you breakfast in bed” from my husband.
There were many others that year and in the years to follow. How fun it was to cash in the certificates during the year. Those gifts were extra special in so many ways.
Putting forth effort for those you love is never a waste. It is love in the purest sense, it is a teaching moment and a good example for all those watching you. It couldn’t be more important.
So put your personal touch on every holiday. Whatever that means – making presents, making decorations, fashioning yard art, baking, cooking. It could be as simple as wrapping a gift or tying a bow or as interesting as smocking a Christmas dress. Whatever shows your talent and care.
Show your love. Give of your time. Make you holiday homemade.
One hundred years ago my grandmother Irene started embroidering linens and doilies for her home. She made tablecloths with matching napkins, pillowcases, dresser scarves, hand towels and handkerchiefs.
She also began collecting special pieces that were decorated by others she knew. Some of the linens were probably to be used in a quilt or bedspread and some were treasured gifts from treasured people in her life. All were spectacular and beautiful.
Sixty years ago my mother Peggy inherited the wonderful collection of embroidered linens from my grandmother. She used a few of them in the house we lived in.
Over the years, she added a few pieces to the group. I remember a tablecloth with napkins for a card table and a liner for a bread basket. I know she made more but that’s all I remember.
Both my grandmother and mother were great sewers and made most of their clothes. My mother made many of my clothes as well as my two children’s when they were little. What they didn’t do very much was embroider, so everything they did embellish is just that much more precious.
The embroidery has become more than just a pretty attraction. It has become a symbol. It represents continuity – a connection over the years, the decades. It is a thread that binds my grandmother to mother to me. All the hours they spent are there. All the starts, mistakes, restarts and finishes are there. All the plans blossoming into beautifully decorated linens are there. There for all to see, appreciate and learn from.
Forty-three years ago I became the recipient of the grand collection, which by then had become fairly extensive. After a few years of my own collecting, I began to try to plan a good use for the expanding treasure trove of embellished pieces of linen and cotton.
Last year I designed a quilt using as many of the antique and vintage pieces as I could. The center is the middle of a tablecloth surrounded by four hand towels and corners of two dresser scarves.
Around that are the borders of a tablecloth. The mosaic panels are made up of all sorts of linens and doilies overlapping all around the quilt.
The final border is made up of handkerchiefs of every color and design.
While sewing every seam, I thought about mother and grandmother, their love of sewing and their contribution to the quilt. Their enthusiasm and love of the art were with me every step of the way. What a lovely way to share with the generations.
One hundred years of hand work, collecting and loving special pieces of cloth, three generations of women and one quilt to show all the care. What a grand result!
I couldn’t have done it without you two!
It all started last Wednesday. The sweet couple, Mr. and Miss, from across the street started working on their yard. They trimmed the trees; shaped the bushes; fertilized, mowed and watered the lawn; swept the sidewalks; and finally pressure-sprayed the fence. The are both teachers and so have summer days available for yard work. But this was all day in the Texas heat!
Then on Thursday, everyone in the neighborhood received a lovely decorated, typed letter from Mr and Miss explaining that they were having a wedding at their house on Saturday. They hoped the music and noise would not disturb anyone and also hoped we were as happy for them as they were.
Friday brought more cleaning outside and inside the house across the street. Windows were washed, carpets steam cleaned, rugs aired. Mr and Miss were in and out numerous times with bags of goodies going in and bags of trash going out. All was aflutter with action and purpose.
Looking up and down the street, I saw several of the neighbors out sprucing up their yards and tidying things up. Was it for the wedding? I thought so. I’m sure we were all trying to make the neighborhood look as presentable as possible for the impending nuptials.
That evening we saw signs going up on the block. The one on the corner read, “Wedding This Way” with an arrow and the one at the house gladly announcing “Wedding Here!” All seemed ready.
Saturday morning, all was quiet at the house. I’m sure much was going on inside but from across the street, it looked very calm.
Next door however, a garage sale was occurring. Cars and trucks were busily driving up and down the street, dropping off the eager shoppers. Was this going to interfere with the wedding? Would there be enough room for all the guests to park? Was this going to be a major clash of events? Neighbors were worried.
But just as the garage sale closed down, guests began to arrive for the ceremony next door. All problems were averted. All manner of people happily entered the house – adults, elderly, children, even a couple of babies.
The block was filled with cars and trucks. Not one more vehicle could have been parked on the street. Something was definitely happening!
As the sun began to set, all the lights in and on the house were lit. Then the lights in the trees of the backyard were turned on. It was quite a spectacle. Everyone was indoors witnessing the exchanging of vows and rings. I imagined it to be a lovely ceremony with friends and family closely gathered around the bride and groom. Nothing but love and good wishes being expressed. Hugs all around.
As darkness set in, the Mariachi Band arrived and all the celebrating moved to the backyard. When Gramps and I took our regular evening walk, we were serenaded with music, laughter, singing and hoorahs around the entire block. It was a lovely summer evening with a slight breeze. We walked in silence and just listened to the happy, magical sounds coming from the backyard across the street.
The whole neighborhood experienced it with joy and gratitude. We’d never had a wedding on the block before. We somehow all felt a bit involved in the great joy, bonding, care and outcome of the event. We wanted it all to go well for Mr and Miss and ultimately be what they dreamed it would be.
The merriment of the backyard with the good food, good beverages, good people, good cause, good entertainment went on til about midnight. Nothing rude or rowdy. Just lots of laughter, music and singing. People having good clean fun with families in attendance.
When it was done, it stopped and everyone left very graciously and politely. No problems there. All behaved themselves very well. They did leave with smiles on their faces, humming in their throats and bit of a jig in their step.
Sunday morning with the bright light of day found the house across the street very quiet. The sign out front, reading “Wedding Here!” still in place. The only reminder of the previous days’ activities.
Monday morning the two, now Mr. and Mrs. were off to get ready for the opening of school. They seemed different but looked pretty much the same. Or did they seem the same but look different? I’m not sure, but something was definitely different.
I hope something in their life has changed now that they are Mr. and Mrs. living in the house across the street. They know what it is. They wanted it. Now they have it. Becoming Mr. and Mrs. will do that for you.
And the neighborhood rejoiced!!!
Mac’s mother called to let all of the grandparents know that Mac had a few open days after Summer Rec ended and before school started. Between those ending and starting days and an upcoming vacation to Washington, D.C., there were a few days open to Grandparent time. We ended with him this last Wednesday for twelve hours.
Now Mac is eleven years and is able to entertain himself a good portion of the time, but when Granny and Gramps get involved, the expectations are raised. Plans are made to fill almost every minute of the day. Fun must be had on an almost continual basis.
We picked Mac up first thing in the morning. He spent about an hour on my phone playing a video game called “Simple Planes”. He built and destroyed numerous planes in that short hour.
Then it was off the movies to see “Jungle Book”, in 3D of course. It’s a great movie of love, loyalty and perseverance – good wins out in the end. And Bill Murray as a Grizzly Bear is just funny no matter how old you are! Mac loved it! We all did!
After the movie we went to lunch for burgers, chips, sodas and BBQ sandwich for Gramps. The music was very retro, so Gramps and I were humming along to songs from our college and high school years.
The weather here in Texas is too hot for outdoor anything during the day, so home we went to play board games. Our current favorite is a game called Qwirkle, which is somewhat like Dominoes. Mac wins more often than not.
Gramps and Mac watched a car race on TV together in the study. They rooted for their favorite cars and drivers. I have no idea who won! It’s a guy thing!
As the sun got low enough and the temperature lowered, Mac and Gramps rode bikes down to the lake near our house. They talked to the men who were fishing on the edge of the lake and rode their bikes back.
By then, everyone was hungry. Sweet Gramps made us a lovely dinner of baked chicken and sautéed squash. After getting full on nutritious food, Mac took a bowl of chips into the back room to read a book.
An hour later, Mac’s mother came to get him. When she asked how his day had gone, he answered, “Fine. It was a normal day.” Normal day?!
Gramps and I certainly had a great deal of fun and loved the time spent interacting with Mac. We love listening to him talk and explain things. We love watching his brain work. But this was anything but a normal day! Mac was still raring to go. Gramps and I were exhausted, pooped, worn out, wasted.
Mac’s normal day had taken the stuffing right out of us. All we wanted to do next was sit down, lay down and sleep. What a difference age makes!