My House, My Home

I’m a real homebody, a nester, so my home is especially important to me.  I love everything about it.  From the front door to the back door to the garage to the yard, it’s my special haven.

We bought the house in foreclosure, which meant it required an immense amount of work. Every surface needed some sort of work, replacement or refinishing. The labor nearly broke us physically and emotionally.

It was much better when we decided to hire out the jobs.  And the nice part was we got to make the house ours.  We added our own touch to every corner of every room.

Now the house is a real home – it’s ours.  Gramps and mine.  The original black front door (really? black?!) is now a welcoming cream with a seasonal wreath hanging on it.  Come on in!

The front foyer greets everyone with horizontal blue and white stripes with blue and white plates scattered all around.  The large chandelier is named Elizabeth.

I know that’s strange but grandson Mac and I where very into naming things when he was younger.  Several things in my house have names.  Don’t judge!

The rest of the house is also very blue.  Blue is my favorite color.  I can’t get enough of it – in all shades and hues.

We have a dining room because we had to have one.  I love having meals with loved ones all around me at the table.  Most of my memories involve meals, so this is important to me. And, of course, all the blue and white dishes.  Enough said.

The family room is, steady now, blue with a fireplace.  It’s very cozy and has two blue recliners for Gramps and me.  We are like a pair of bookends on either side of the table with the lamp.  Gramps does a lot of reading in his chair and I do a lot of sewing in mine.

We are surrounded by several collections of family antiques.  They mean a lot to us and give us comfort.

The kitchen is white with a blue backsplash.  It’s very country in style.  I have a large cast iron sink and an island with a marble top.  The old chopping block from Aunt Gladys is there too.

The kitchen eating area is surrounded in beadboard paneling with, you guessed it, blue walls.  It’s a lovely sunny corner with windows on two sides.

The master bedroom is, careful now, yellow with blue accents.  Our bed is over one hundred years old.  My grandmother was born in that bed.  The room has many antiques, which I love.

There’s a guest room and an office.  The guest room holds many of my quilts. The office is mostly Gramps’ space.

Then there’s my sewing room.  The HQ of all fabric-related jobs. It is my favorite room. Lots of lighting.   Lots of storage. Lots of fabric.

One whole wall has shelves of fabric.  And yet that is never enough.  Somehow every project I start requires some fabric that I do not have.  I hate when I have to go to a fabric store.  NOT!

There’s a wonderful cutting table in the middle with an ironing surface.  My sewing machine sits in the corner facing out so I can see everything.  Sewing projects are stacked everywhere.

On the outside, Gramps has singlehandedly made our yard a green haven.  He has added grass, trees, bushes and walkways.  There is now a wonderful patio and a colorful yard beyond in the back.

The front has a welcoming walkway with lights, trees and shrubs.  Our sunset walk always starts with an inspection of the front yard grass for weeds and other stray growing things.

I love my little bungalow of a house.  It is my shelter, my haven.  It is sweet and welcomes me home every time.

It has become like an old friend.  Always there.  Always comfortable.  Always reliable.

It’s getting dark out now.  I need to go turn on the front lights.  Yes, even Elizabeth!

Advice From Mother

My Mother always had good advice for me and for others. She would gladly provide advice to anyone who asked for it or pretty much anyone she thought needed it.

She began early in my life with safety recommendations and some common sense things that would work for the rest of my life. Easy things like “One banana is good for you, two bananas are not” or “Never waste food” or “Look both ways before crossing the street”.

Later she got to more important issues involving sex, personal safety, drinking, things like that. She always told me to keep my clothes on and buttoned closed. I was to always keep a quarter in my shoe to call home if I ever needed help.

I was never to go out with any boy who never came to the door to get me for a date. I was not to respond to a honk from a car at the curb. The boy must come in and talk with my parents. In fact, if it was a first date, the boy was required to drive my mother around the block in his car to show he could drive well before he could take me out. And they all did it!

My mother said never trust a boy that did not bring you home on time and did not take you where he said he was going to take you. But point of fact – Gramps brought me home (back to the dorm) four minutes late on our first date in college. That was significant back then. I had to come in four hours earlier the next night as punishment. And look where we are now!

Mom was the greatest decorator and was not afraid to use color or paint anywhere. She said you could have five colors and three patterns in a room. And believe me we did! And it all looked great!

I remember she loved pink, so it was very predominant in our house. Daddy never said a word. Of course, he was color blind.

We had the only pink refrigerator I’ve ever seen. And the cabinets were pink, blue and green, all around the kitchen. You certainly couldn’t nap in her kitchen.

Yes, Mom was fearless with color. She would say, “It’s only paint!”

And she sewed everything we used practically. From clothes to table linens to curtains to slipcovers to pillows. She make almost everything I wore. One year, for some reason, there were numerous school parties and I got a new outfit for each one. When I commented that this seemed too much, she said, “If you have fun in it one time, it’s worth the effort.” How sweet was that to say to a sixth grader!

And that held true for babies also. One good day in an outfit was worth the making of it.

She had good advice for a newly married daughter. Never stop talking to each other, she said to me. And I have found that helpful for fifty-one years.

Mom had lots of good words for us and would often refer to the old standards. But somehow she would get one or two words wrong and yet still get the meaning across. Such as, “A stitch in time saves ten”. It was hilarious and she never knew why we were all laughing.

Mom was a caution and her words of wisdom, correct or a bit revised, helped raise me. They even saved me several times.

I imagine she is still organizing and advising in her corner of Heaven.

Thanks Mom.

The Purpose Of A Funeral

I’m going to a funeral today.  I don’t want to go but I always go.  A funeral is necessary.  It’s an ending and a beginning.  It’s like a period at the end of a sentence.  Final in a way, but also suggesting more to follow.

A funeral is one way to say goodbye.  Even if you don’t know the person, which I don’t in this case, you can help the family and friends say farewell.  It helps to have the village around you.

A funeral is a good time to remember the person.  Grieving is all about remembering and talking about the lost.  They should never be forgotten and should be part of the conversation always.

A funeral is a time to grieve for all the lost ones.  Every time I attend a funeral I think about my mother, Daddy, my friend Sherry, her husband Paul and all the sweet souls that I miss so much.  It’s such an appropriate place and time to mourn for everyone.

A funeral is an organized ritual that provides comfort at a time when everything feels out of control.  It soothes the soul, provides stability, and makes sense in a tumultuous period.  It may be the only time when you can predict what will happen.

A funeral is a gathering of friends and family that can give you the strength you lack.  The clan will back you up and hold you when you most need it.  There will be a hand on you at all times, so you will not fall.

A funeral is the best time to cry all you want and need to.  You may have to stifle your tears in many other places because it is so inappropriate, but not at the funeral.  You can sob until the Kleenex box is empty, if you want, and no one will care.

A funeral is a chance to tell everyone about the lost one.  You can provide pictures, video, music, favorite treasures, stories and jokes.  Make it as personal and detailed as you want, so all will understand the depth of the life that has ended.

A funeral is a group activity that strengthens the whole village and gives it a common memory.  The entire group has a known and agreed-upon way to deal with loss and sadness.  The elders hold onto the memories and teach them to the younger ones.  This practice keeps the village stable and strong.

Really, a funeral is no small thing.  It is a huge thing that can be uncomfortable at times.  It makes us face our own mortality, but we are never alone.  We do it together.  Side by side.  Holding each other up.

So today I will go to a funeral with the rest of my village.

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.

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.

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!!!!

 

Best Advice

My mother always had good advice for me – for everyone actually.  She gave every girl in the neighborhood a good talk before each got married.  She taught every boy how to treat a girl well.

My mother knew a lot and was not afraid to share it with others.  She learned much from her life and was eager to teach it to those she thought needed it.  No one was safe from her advice.  Especially me.

As the only daughter, she saw me as the one who really needed teaching.  I got a lesson nearly every day.  It was important that I grew up benefitting from all her knowledge.

And it was all good.  Some of her advice was standard stuff, like “A stitch in time saves nine.”  No sense reinventing the wheel, she thought, when most things are tried and true.

But some of her advice was life-changing and learned through hard experience.  She always told me to keep a quarter in my shoe (to make a phone call home) and to never depend on anyone else to get myself home.

This good counsel would come to my aid one night during my senior year in high school.  I was on a date with a boy I knew well, and we were out with another couple.  We had gone to a movie (drive-in theatre, in those days) and were on our way home.  I needed to use the restroom, so we stopped at a gas station in a very remote area.

While I was in the restroom, the two boys thought it would be funny to drive away.  When I came out, no one was there.  I was scared to death.

Then I remembered my mother’s words.  I got the quarter out of my shoe and called my dad, who came immediately to pick me up.  Just as he arrived, my date came back.

Needless to say, I went home with my dad and I never dated that boy again.

From then on, I always had money for a phone call and was never in a situation where I could not get myself home.  Meaning I was never too drunk, too high, too isolated, too intimidated or too penniless to take care of myself.  Never!!

Today my mother’s advice still rings in my ear when I leave home for any reason.  Good counsel is good counsel at any age.

Thanks Mom!!