Tag Archives: grandchildren

Lessons Learned


Grandparenting is a lesson in velocity.  Time and distance.  I can’t explain it from the scientific view, but only from the emotional one.  One of the only reasons I took off some time from writing was to spend time with a very important four year old.  To say we are taught lessons we need to learn in life, is to know that our teacher may be a small child.  Being in the moment and responding to a request to read a book, color a paper or “come and see this, BeeBee” was a test of my usual behavior.  I always have something else to do, until I have reason to be there right now.

Moments while I was in the midst of preparing pancakes or waffles were going to evaporate.  Waffles waited, and pancakes paused.  It was as easy as breathing to sit on the couch “right there!”  and be BeeBee, and read a book to the sweetest audience. She leaned against my hip, and listened to Amelia Bedelia, which has always been one of my favorite books.  Amelia Bedelia is still as funny as she was back then and appreciated more.  The nuances of her adventures perhaps were not fully understood but it was about the listening and the attention my voice drew and the knowledge that this was the best feeling, right here and right now.

Penguins are funny creatures who lead with determination and energy, not unlike this grandgirl.  She stood mesmerized watching the constant motion as the birds swam past and she patiently waited for them to come close and then to move along.  I learned that these days together were much the same.  Long distance love relationships are difficult.  Long distance relationships with grandchildren are beyond that.  My FHB was sad before she arrived thinking about her leaving.  I had to corral him with a little bit of Dr. Seuss and remind him “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” before we picked them up at the airport.  We both know that the next time she will be different in many ways, because four is a special age that challenges what is real and what isn’t and that so many questions are asked of us with curiosity and wonder.  It is important to pay attention to the question as much as in preparing the answer.  The synergy of influence between us is the lesson in itself.

Making memories that will carry us all between visits is like taking a picture and not knowing if you captured what you hoped for, until the time has passed.  Four year olds are in the now.  The world is all encompassing and to hear “I want to show you all ‘the Nemos’ ” meant we were invited into her world and her world view. At the aquarium,   I could totally see how Disney saw the magic in clownfish and offered it up to wide-eyed four year olds to enjoy.  I got to bring her to my favorite library and sit on a tiny stool and a tiny chair and look face to face at a smile that lights up my heart.  I did need help getting up but that’s what FHBs are for.

We were given commands to sit down, and sit here, and read this and read that, and our compliance was one hundred percent.  I only pushed back when she wanted me to color a picture of shells and I just really don’t like coloring in the lines.  She was pretty patient as we negotiated that I would color two, but that I didn’t want to do two more.  I, too,  can be four for a minute.

The morning that I had to say good bye I squatted down so that we were face to face. I  took in her serious expression as I told her how much I would miss her, and that having her  with us for a few days was the best.  Her big eyes listened, and her hug was tighter than I had remembered.  Love hurts for a minute, but we’ll always have Nemo.


For the Girls


Strange how things come full circle in our personal worlds.  Several weeks ago, my FHB and I were having a somewhat intense conversation about an event about 42 years ago that I had put away in the back of my mind.  It had to do with a #metoo experience when I was in graduate school.  One of my professors had “invited” me for a drink after class ended for the semester.  I was pretty uncomfortable with the idea as I was married,  I was in my mid-twenties, and he was a lot older and I didn’t drink.  Somehow there was a certain amount of pressure to discuss my studies and his interest in my studies, and we ended up going to the Ratskeller (as every college seems to have).  I agreed to have a soda and listened to him wax on and on about himself (first clue).  I told him that I needed to leave and go home to my husband, and he said he would walk me to the car. What a gentleman (second clue).  He was parked in the faculty lot and I was in the student lot.  He took my arm and “directed” me toward his car.  He offered to give me a ride in his shiny black Corvette (third clue).  I mustered up the courage to tell him that I had no interest, and that I was going to my car.  He shrugged and gave me a creepy smile and got in his car.  As I hurried to my car, he appeared to come up on my side as I walked.  He lowered his window and said in a angry tone “You are an ‘A’ student, you know…but you’re only getting a ‘B’ or ‘B-‘ because you are not very cooperative.  You still could change my mind”.  He revved his engine and pulled away.  I was shaken and disgusted. I never told.    The memory was long forgotten until recently.

It was actually one of several moments that happened during my growing up years from childhood into adulthood.  Ironically, about a week ago,  in the local paper, there was an article about a man who had been a professor, and was now a sculptor and was being recognized for casting a bronze statue of someone of some prominence.  He was pictured and named, and I was stunned to remember and see that the son of a bitch was still alive, and  apparently well and almost ninety years old.  That would make him  about twenty-six years my senior, then and now.

I think about those #metoo moments that I endured and survived with anger and regrets of not having a voice, or a person to hear me, were I to have found my voice.  I don’t believe that I was naive but rather innocent and foolishly trusting that I was in control.  I was not, but now I am.  I am a grandmother of  two amazing and vibrant grandgirls.  They give me perspective of hope and joy.  What I want for them and all the females of their generation and future generations is the power to understand and define who they are, and that they are forces to be reckoned with.  In total, my grandgirls need to be respected by all people.  Kindness and trust in oneself and others, needs to be the prevailing element in human relationships.  The past year defined the voices of women as becoming stronger and more powerful.  There is a new freedom to grant to all of us that says NO never means YES!  It becomes a new declaration of independence.

I look at my relationship with my FHB and know that we are together because we are kind toward one another and respectful and it is safe for us both.  That is what I want for those girls of mine.  It is the change that is happening now.  What exciting times.  What hope!

Things she missed



My father always was waiting for my mother. Even if he told her that they had to leave for somewhere at a certain time, and adjusted it for “Inge Time”, she always kept him waiting.  Even in death, he got to wherever one goes, nine years ahead of her.  She finally joined him in 2008, on May 29th.  That’s when my sister and I became orphans.  However long you have your parents around, when they die, you become orphans.  In the years since she died, I thought about all the changes that happened in the world that would have interested her and angered her.  I thought of moments when I truly have felt that there were events in the world that I was grateful she was not around to see. There are other moments that I wished she was here to enjoy and discuss.

The fall of 2008 the world went through the worst financial crisis since the Depression.  As a woman who worked in the business world she would have been angry at whoever was “minding the store”.  She would have been amazed that Barack Obama was elected president twice and that during his tenure, Osama bin Laden was killed by our military.  She would have spouted that it was good that the SOB had been found and killed.  She liked when bad people got their due.  She would have cheered for “Sully” Sullenberger for saving the plane and landing in the Hudson River.  She avoided “swine flu” and “Ebola”.  She would have worried about all the hurricanes but especially about Hurricane Sandy hitting NYC so hard.  She would been concerned that Michael Jackson passed away “so young” as she liked his music.  She might have been amazed at our landing a rover on Mars, since the Moon landing in 1969 was something we were allowed to stay up late to watch on a neighbor’s television.  Neil Armstrong died after she did .

She would have been worried about the Boston Marathon bombing because it took place in Massachusetts where her children live and would have lamented the number of terrorist acts that occurred on US soil.  As an immigrant, she would have been so angry at the feelings against Muslims because as a Jewish woman, she had known hate and felt its effect.  She would have been irate with Brian Williams  re-writing his own history. She often said that his eyes were too close together and that you couldn’t trust someone who looked like that.  She would have been pleased that Prince William found a bride as she worried about the young princes without their mother.  That President Obama opened relations with Cuba might have provoked feelings in both directions, suspicion as well as curiosity.  Robin Williams death would have saddened her as she liked “Mork from Ork”.

Inge would have taken much joy in knowing that she had great-grandchildren and that my FHB and I were grandparents twice over.  She would have kvelled at her grandson’s wedding and enjoyed meeting her grand-daughter in law.   Knowing that one of her grandsons had made it to Yale in the Nurse Practitioner program , and another one finished up his PhD at Harvard would have made her so proud, and everyone she knew would  have known.  She would have felt much peace in knowing her youngest grandson was safe and living in a idyllic  setting in the Berkshires, not far from Tanglewood and was very happy.

Time accelerates at a pace that I never imagined. Nine years seems like a moment.  Current events become history.  Inge’s death was a piece of her living, not her life.  She’s still the topic most  every day and remembered with stories of motherhood, friendship, life partner for my father, as well as someone whose life was part of the context of my life.  She challenged, she gave, she baked and she is missed.

Air Traffic

I can always find a reason to stay inside the loft.  The thirteen foot windows have enormous blinds and keeping out the sun during the day and the noise of the road beneath us keeps us sheltered from the outside. Some days, that’s what we need and what we want.  However, there is a great big beautiful world beyond the loft. This week my FHB and I reconnected with both the world and some of the people we love most in the world.

It’s difficult to be so far away from members in our family who live on the other side of the country. Time being a consideration,  there are only so many ways to get there within a short period that makes it easier, but never easy.  Air travel continues to be a challenge that tests our patience and our mettle.  Transporter units(like those in Star Trek) still have some kinks to be worked out.  In a conversation with one of our east coast adult kids, I was apprised of the fact that some body parts might travel through the unit better than others and I don’t want to end up looking like a Picasso painting.  Thus, we fly the less than friendly skies and deal with the roll, pitch and yaw of air travel.

Our first leg of our trip (not including the short layover in Newark, NJ) was to Portland, Oregon to spend a few days with my FHB’s sister and our brother-in-law.  We were spoiled with amazing food because she could be on a desert island with only sticks and grass and could create a several course meal that would fill you and thrill you. That’s how creative a cook she is and she does it as easily as she breaths.  They live in a garden of fruits and flowers and  an Eden-like setting.  Our brother-in-law is very involved in the music scene and has the Energizer Bunny mindset and keeps busy and moving doing projects around their house and filling local venues with songwriters and singers.  They have about a trillion friends and a supportive social network which really seems to make their lives richer in many ways.  My FHB worries less about his little sister (but always worries as a big brother does) because he knows she is surrounded by a loving partner and lots and lots of people.  We drove up to the highest peak in Oregon, Mt. Hood, which was snow covered and there were a lot of folks on skis and we were not among them.  We went into the  Timberline Lodge which was built in the 1930s as part ofFullSizeRender 12 the WPA efforts and it is grand and beautifully designed with all the accoutrements of  elegant times gone by. We didn’t just eat lunch, we dined. A few days in Portland is never enough but it was time to travel south and so we said our farewells and headed for the next leg of our vacation to San Francisco.

We arrived and were met by our three and almost a half year old granddaughter and her mom. Her dad works in the city and travels back and forth during the front end of the week.   We drove through San Francisco and headed north toward Medocino County and the lovely town of Ukiah, which now is home to our family.  It’s wine country and as we sat on the deck each day, we could look out on the vineyards next door and beyond those were fields of cattle.  It is a rural, sleepy town, surrounded by large hills and verdant valleys.  There are rivers running through and apparently good places to catch a rainbow trout or two.  My FHB vows that the next time we cross the country we will be packing a fly fishing rod and lots of good luck.  People are friendly and not hurried.  We shopped in a co-op filled with fresh everything and a staff that looked you in the eye (or two) and wished you a really good day and seemed to mean it.  The rhythm of life in Ukiah would be characterized as an adagio.

We were enchanted by the sweetness and spice of our little one.  She is tenacious and bright and full of questions and comments and nothing gets by her.  Her mood was somewhat tempered by not feeling so well but despite this she allowed us into her world which is rich and not confined by a clock or watch.  She showed us the berries that I could eat from the garden (blueberries) and those that I can’t (blackberries and raspberries).  She told us about the birds  that visited the feeders and those that flew overhead.  She thought that my FHB, her “Saba”, was very silly and she would give him sidelong grins as she asked him to read a book or color with her.  A three year old’s play is her work as she tries to negotiate the world.  Her parents are her safety and her champions and it is always good to see how much love the three share with one another and how their lives are full and clearly happy.  It’s much nicer to see it up close and personal but makes it hard to leave when the time comes.

The show of hummingbirds, and quails, and mourning doves and vultures circling above, was all the entertainment we needed. The days went by slowly and we were able to keep our minds clear and focused on our little hostess.  We ate fresh food from local growers and enjoyed the slow pace of life in the little town.

We leave tomorrow and back to loft living.  When you are at that stage in life when you know there is more behind than ahead of you, each goodbye is a hope that it is “till we meet again”.  My FHB and I both shed a few tears, at very inopportune moments, when we realized that the depth of our love for our faraway family.  Our adult kids aren’t there yet in their lives, but we know that time is fleeting and has passed with little fanfare and here we are.  In the meantime, technology and the postal service will have to fill the gaps between visits.  Thanks again, you know who you are, and see you soon, if not sooner.