School Days

11121111_sIn my mind, I’m still in the “Waiting for Spring” mode. Remember that post, way back at the end of March? Now, we are at the last week of August. I wonder if the time has gone  as fast for the young person preparing to go back to school. Actually, there are a few who have already returned – beginning a new year in a higher grade. I consider that a definite “Right of passage.” I guess at this stage of the game, you, Mom have already shopped for those notebooks, pencils, back packs, and oh yes – that first day of school outfit. They all want to turn a few heads walking to the newly assigned locker in their snazzy just purchased denim skirt, or that cool pair of Converse Chuck Taylor high tops as the sweet days of summer quickly slip away. The days of sleeping in for them, late breakfasts, and being at the friend’s until all hours is over for now, and the hectic schedule has officially been re-introduced.

Oh for school days, with the rules, lessons, homework, basketball, soccer, football games, flute lessons, and the practices to back it all up; hallways bursting at the seams, droned chatter filling those corridors, ringing bells, lines for lunch, and auditorium visits. It all has the sound of some sort of regimented military campaign, doesn’t it? But, we’ve all done it, and managed to survive it, from our five-year olds, up and through our young adult children. This always takes me to the idea of “newness.” We put our little ones on the bus, and we don’t interact with them again until it returns them home. Yes, there are teachers and aids to assist in getting them to their proper place, but this is when “you,” the parent finds out how good a job you’ve done in rearing that child – teaching him/her independence. Although, no amount of independence will turn aside the tears shed by both the little one, and mom when it comes to that first day ever. I think I cried all the way to work that day after dropping off my daughter, and watching an aid escort her to the proper line. But, this to I believe is a right of passage. I have to chuckle, because that could mean for both Mom, and the little one.

The memories of school stay with us the remainder of our lives – good or bad. Personally, every time I open a new book my nose is immediately drawn to the spine. I don’t think there is another fragrance like it in the world. My husband talks about glazed donuts. Why, you ask? When he came in from school with his little buddies, his mom always had freshly home-made ones waiting for them. My daughter remembers a time (two or three months) when my grandmother visited with us. Each of those days, on her arrival from school Great Grandma had a full course meal waiting, pork chops with mashed potatoes. No matter how old you become you hold to those precious snippets of life; they somehow have gotten mixed in to the mold that is you.

Parents look forward to this time of year, because now, semi-quiet returns to the house, and Mom has all those hours to herself; a time for rejuvenation and rethinking those objectives and aspirations, if only for a moment. Because, very soon, the bumper sticker proclamations will again announce your comings and goings, and rule a lot of the afternoons; Soccer Mom, Football Mom, and Mom’s Taxi. Don’t sigh, and shake your head, you know I’m right. Then, as if all of that weren’t enough, I hear – “Mom, Becky and I want to go to the mall, can you take us?” I also, wouldn’t want to leave Dad out, because I know many of you do your share, as well. But, relish every moment now, because the years go entirely to fast.  Like the song, Sunrise, Sunset – Swiftly go the years – believe me they really do. So, rock on Mom. Oh, and you too, Dad.

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Lizard…Lizard…Lizard

Back in October, the temps here reached the high 70s during the week of Columbus Day. On the east coast we have always known that seven days specifically as Indian Summer.  Therefore, all of the creepy crawlies, normally out during warm weather, continued their summer activities.  As I mentioned a couple of blogs ago, my desk faces outside, and is very close to the front door; the same entrance way that had a slight dip.  What I mean is, the weather striping had been worn away at one particular spot, leaving a perfect place for anything slithering – to glide right on inside.  Let me set the scene.  Here I sit at my desk, busily labeling defendant documents.  Now, I say this, because at the time, I didn’t bother anyone or anything, and no one should have bothered me.  But no –  suddenly, my peripheral vision caught sight of a black streak scurrying on the floor to the left of my chair.

Now, not all of you reading this know me.  You would have no idea that I would rather walk a mile out-of-the-way than continue down the same walkway where I had come upon anything crawling on its belly.  You also would not know that I ran two blocks after throwing my bike in the ditch from a dead garter snake.  Oh sure, you know from my blog the week of Thanksgiving how my father scared the snot out of me with the rubber snake in a bag, but you have never actually witnessed any of this.  Do you know how far or how fast a person can move when fear comes calling?  So, although we’re talking about the creature moving at lightening speed, I caught a shape, and a color which proved all the information by brain needed.  My gray cells processed the data provided, instantly sent a message to the vocal cords, producing not a scream, but a squeal; just enough to alert everyone a problem existed.  Only a millisecond later, the feet and arms responded, sending me clearly to the other side of the office. Remarkably, the papers I had been working on never left the desk, somewhat disheveled, but they remained in that spot – good thing too, because one of the attorneys would have been retrieving them, and not me.

So, here I am cowering in a corner on the other side of the office, and my co-worker scrambling toward me, urgently asking what the problem might be.  The two attorneys also scrambled out – all staring at me as though I’d set up a robbery, the thief had shown up, and I’m now reacting.  I began pointing toward my desk, and tried to speak the words.  “Lizard…lizard…lizard…by my desk.”  The senior partner’s face, I think, said it all.  He stared at me as if to say “What?  Well, was it a Gila Monster.”  I said to myself, yeah, yeah, think what you want, only kill the beast.  Needless to say, I couldn’t move from my protective corner.  My co-worker followed the guys, and reported back to me.  With each thwack of the wrist I cringed, thinking oh my Lord, it must have been bigger than I first thought.  It went down like a hostage situation, the only thing missing had been the walkie-talkies where they reported each negotiation back to her.  I remained in my space until all the commotion died down and I got word – “It’s done.”

My co-worker reported the news to a client later in the day.  He laughed and commented on how it must have been an alligator since it took two men to bring the quick little so and so down.  My grandmother used to say of ghosts, they won’t hurt you, but they will certainly make you kill yourself (trying to get out of its way that is). That is exactly my opinion on these little creatures.  And, I’m not talking about the cute little television gecko or my animated reptile in the suit.  My neighbors seven-year old daughter, also laughed at me, because she catches them and tries to keep them in a jar.  To bad she had not been there to catch the little critter for me, as she does when I see them on my family room window.  Interested in the outcome?  My attorney called the repair guy, who came to fix the door.  He too gave me a look as if to say, “Really?”  All I can say is, they don’t know how lucky they are.  Because, if the Gila Monster had run across my foot, the papers would have definitely gone flying.  Then, there would have been much more than strewn papers to clean from the floor, if you know what I mean.  Am I the only one afraid of creepy crawlers?

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

What Christmas Means To Me

There is no doubt that since I lost my mom, the Christmas holiday has changed drastically for me.  Okay, I admit I should probably be further along with my recovery than I am, but remember I have no siblings, there is only me.  I do confess, I’m not where I need to be, however, I’m definitely not where I used to be.  This is the time of year when everyone’s heart grows, and warm wishes abound, and in trying to force the holiday spirit upon myself, I had to stop for a minute and remind me – it’s okay. I say that because none of this is about me or my family or how many gifts I can buy.  The season is to honor Immanuel, for without whom, life as we know it would be something completely different, I’m sure.  Regardless I sit back; I watch and listen to reports of who has finished decorating their tree, how many sets of lights have been used, and about the planning of the holiday meal.  While every blink of my eye produces another image of a time gone by.

I think back, and recall a story of me as a child.  That particular year I became overwhelmed with Christmas.  I took my teddy – he had been my buddy for some time –  I gathered him up, and went about my way leaving everything under the tree.  I think this says something about a person’s make-up.  Although, I know I’m not the only one that has experienced or witnessed this.  I’m certain everyone reading this can recall their traditions over the years.  As a child, my grandfather liked to provide a shoe box.  That magical box held the hard Christmas candy, nuts and fruit. I would walk around with it for one week, slowly eating the contents; savoring everything and making it last so that I’d still have some to carry me through the football game that I watched with him on New Year’s Day.  Then, as I aged, everyone always came to my house for dinner.  My mother would put on the spread for uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandparents, and for whatever reason, we never had a kiddy table – we all dined together.

But, as time goes on, and you get older, roles and people change – families develop new branches, and there is always someone else to move into the matriarch or patriarch position.  For me, as much as I want to hand down traditions, I can’t seem to get out of the past recalling the days of my youth, as I am sure many of you do also.  There is always something that pulls me back to a simpler time; watching that game with granddad or helping my grandma as she brought out the fruit cake that had been soaking in the tin since September.  When she’d grab the axe in one hand, and me by the other as we would head into the woods to locate that special tree.  I’m also thinking as I write, those customs sadly, did not make it this far; that is the fruit cake, the shoe box, and searching out a tree in the woods.  Maybe it’s a good thing because they can then, be special to me alone.  I also think, for the young people out there, those occasions would be more reminiscent of the dark ages, maybe, huh?

What Christmas means to me is all about family, but as I get older it’s all about the tsunami of memories, flooding my brain.  I go back to the old neighborhood in Queens, when everyone on the block shared in the spirit of giving, while we all went from house to house wishing each other well.  We all shared food, while exchanging those gifts and visited for a glass of eggnog or hot chocolate.  Lastly, what is this holiday without The Temptations in the background singing Silent Night or Stevie Wonder doing One Little Christmas Tree. What’s this time devoid of the lights twinkling on the tree as you watch A Christmas Carol with more eggnog; this is what it really means to me.  And if I had one wish this holiday season – other than wishing everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas – it would be to relive all those instances over and over, and over again.  Tell me your favorite thing about this magical time of year.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Love of Music

I have loved music since childhood. I guess it’s because I grew up in a home always filled with someone singing or the stereo playing.  Of course growing up this way gives one an ear for good music.  Yes, just like the stereotypical black southern woman in the church choir – my grandmother, an aunt and my mother all began singing there.  In fact, not many people know this little tidbit of information, but I often think of it; as a little girl I remember my mom singing in a quartet.  They called themselves “The United Echoes,” and they sang live right here in Virginia on the radio in the ’50s.  Two particular gospel songs always come to mind when I recall that group – “I’m To Close,” and “Come Ye Disconsolate.”  Let me just give a little plug here, and say Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway have a spirit-filled rendition of the latter.  As soon as I got my iPod, those were two tunes that mandatorily had to be added to the “Gospel” category.

Moving on, in 2006 my mom had a minor procedure where she had to be hospitalized and undergo surgery.  She healed perfectly from the operation.  However, she did contract that dreaded HA-MRSA bug or Health Care Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (something running rampant in certain hospitals here).  One month later, my poor mother still had not returned home.  Her doctor wanted to make certain all the infection had been beaten.  He therefore, strongly suggested she remain for an additional week of antibiotic drip.  Her private insurance requested she be moved to another facility; a nursing home conveniently sat attached to the other side of the building – she simply had to be rolled on over.

I must say, these places are a story in themselves.  I spent the entire week with her there and got a chance to watch all the goings on up close.  During the day appeared like five o’clock at Grand Central Station.  Residents were allowed to move about, and one will forever stick in my mind.  The elderly, heavy-set African-American woman from farther down the hall in the other direction, and her wheelchair.  Although she suffered from dementia, she had no problem with her hands and arms.  The entire day she whirled herself around, rolled up and down the hallway, and sat right at the entrance of my mother’s room.  She would talk to me about how she loved it when I came to visit her at her home, and how she hated to see me leave; on and on she would go.

Then, one day toward the end of my mother’s stay, our new friend sat all the way in the room this time.  My mother lay in her bed with her eyes closed; quite miserable, homesick and trying I’m sure, to will herself anywhere but there.  Out of nowhere, and completely unprovoked, a deep soulful hum emanated from this elder – this grandmother to which time had been unkind.  One that sprung open the eyes of my upset and fed-up mother.  She snapped her gaze in my direction, and then to the woman.  For that instance we both got the impression of being immediately transported to another time.  A moment in the clichéd south – a slavery scene or a 1930s African-American movie with Mahalia Jackson humming an old Negro spiritual.  I got chills, and my mother could only stare at me and shake her head in amazement.  I read somewhere – every now and again, when you’re talking to God, you have to hum so the devil doesn’t know what you’re saying. The elderly woman simply turned her chair, wheeled herself back through the door and hummed her way down the hallway evidencing no matter how unkind time had been; dementia or no dementia, nothing would steal the song in her heart.  We all should have that much love for music, that absolutely nothing will steal it away.

Also as a reminder, did you take a look at the new historic place and pics at “View From The Roads?” And, lastly, if you’re here, would you be so kind as to click on the “LIKE” button on my Facebook Fan Page.  Thanks.

Confused Instant Messenger

On a Saturday morning, a few weeks ago, I happened to go on Facebook, doing what it is we do, when I noticed two people in the sidebar also visiting.  One of the names popping up in the little window belonged to my stepdaughter-in-law, so I immediately sent her an instant message.

“Good morning, how you doing?”

“Hi, Grandma Ronnie, I’m good,” she responded.

Now, I never gave a second thought to the grandma response, because my daughter-in-law occasionally addresses us the same as the children; example, my husband called my mother “Nana,” like our daughter.  Everyone addressed his mother as “Ma,” so I did also.

“What you doing?” I asked.

“My mom let me play a game on her Facebook account while she is in the shower.”

“Oh, your mother is there?”

“Yes, she’s in the shower.  My mom is always here,” she typed.

“Is your dad there as well?”

“No, Daddy is at work.”

“At work? In Ohio?” I queried.

“Yes, Grandma Ronnie, that’s were we live.”

“Did your mother drive over alone?” I asked.

“No, she’s been here all along,” she responded.

“But, your parents live in Pennsylvania.”

“No they don’t, they live here.”

“When did they move there?” I asked, surprise blanketing my face.

“What are you talking about, they are always here.”

“Okay, Alison, you are making me crazy.  What are your parents doing there working?  When did they come?”

“It’s Sarah, Grandma Ronnie.”

I explained the entire conversation to my husband; he and I laughed so hard for a week.  I guess the morning cloud refused to lift, at least enough so that I could understand my ten-year old granddaughter typed and answered me like an adult.  I don’t know if its old age,  a brain on overload or a warning sign that I may be slipping off the edge.  Either way, if you want to converse with me in the morning, make certain I know who you are.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto