it sounded like a great idea

Granddaughter Number 1 was spending the night last night.  She had done this countless times since she was a baby.  My son is pretty much raising her himself, her mom having gone in and out of the picture more times than most people paint their nails, but at any rate our girl has her own room at our house, her own potty, massive amounts of toys and books. you get the picture.

so last night she was spending the night.  I thought, hey shes 4 now, lets jazz it up.  Lets have a “camp out” in the family room.  She was all for it.  we changed into jammies, pushed the “princess barbie room” out of the way ( dont ask) , lay blankets and pillows and purple baby and naked barbie and reindeer holding a ice cream cone  on the floor.  The  two ponies rested on barbie;s canopy.  We settled in for a night of “watching  tv all night long.”

“dont touch me, Im making a line”

“grammy I need a drink”

“I spilled on my nighty”

“I DONT WANT TO CHANGE MY NIGHTY”

“lets bounce”

“This blanket has holes” ( crochetted afghan)

“Whats that smell?”

“can I lay my head on your lap?” ( Ahh, grammy moment)

“Im hungry.” ( Cereal at 12:00 am)

“I want to watch Minnies bowtique”

“I dont have to go potty”

“grammy, Im tired, you better put me to bed”

so we stumbled up the stairs way after midnight, me marveling at the fact that she had lasted that long AWAKE.  Placed her in her crib ( I know, way too old for a crib but we havent put a toddler bed up yet and she humors us …), kissed her head, told her I love her and went to my own warm bed.

“Grammy”

“Grammy, you left the door open”

“Grammy, I peed my bed”

whew.  Im exhausted.  next time, into bed at 9.

 

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last talk with dad

I just read a little blog post about someone’s “gram” and it brought clearly back my last talk with dad.  It wasnt the day he passed, and it wasnt really the last time we talked, but it was the last time that his eyes looked at me clearly, the last time we had a conversation, and I am saddened and a little ashamed to say, the last time he comforted me .  Here was my dad, MY DAD, frail and brittle, hair askew, sweater buttoned wrong, sitting in his chair at that damned nursing home that my mother made me return him to — comforting me.  In all the sludge that was dimming his brain, through pain and fear and dementia that caused him to lose touch with all of us — he pulled out the strength and love to say to me that night ” It’ll be alright Cindy.  I love you , I love you Cindy”  and when I lay my head on his shoulder and felt those bones where there used to be strong muscle, I cried like a baby.  And, good God, so did he. 

I had gotten up from the table at home, announcing I was going to see dad.  Mom had made me take him back to the nursing home a few days before and i knew she hadnt been to see him that day ” Oh Cindy, he just sits there, he doesnt know if Im there or not” and I wanted to see him .  My oldest and her family were there for dinner, she offered to come with me but I said, no, he’ll be tired, Ill just go in, talk a bit and help him get to bed.

When I walked into the TV room, there he sat, uneaten dinner on the tray, swollen arm resting at his side.  “Hi honey, wheres your mother?”  I sat and we talked.  dad began to cry ” what did I do to deserve this?  Im not a bad person, I did bad things, I shouldnt be here…” On and on.  I didnt know if he was in 2011 in the nursing home or 1946 in the Navy.  I didnt know what era or decade or what it was he thought he had done, but I told him over and over, “daddy you did everything right.  God forgives you for every mistake you ever made. its ok. its ok.”.  His hands were cold, and as I wrapped his sweater closer around him I remembered Taresa had made pie.”  I brought you pie dad”. he devoured it.  And then he cried again.  No more than 2 weeks before his death, small and rattled, sad and so sick, he cried out.  I couldnt take it.  I said “Im sorry daddy, Im so sorry” and he looked at me, eyes clearer and said “Its alright Cindy, its alright.  I love you”.

I called for Taresa and  my husband to come to the nursing home.  I couldnt put my dad in that bed in that corner of that room.  I couldnt.  But I wasnt strong or determined enough to pick him up and put him in my car and bring him home.  Home to die surrounded by things he loved and people he loved.  They came, and dad cried some more, and Taresa looked into those eyes and knew that her pop was still in there.

So many regrets.  Why didnt I take a leave from work to care for him?  mom said she couldnt, said physically she couldnt and ‘would you want to be here all day with a man?” which tells me something of her mental state….Why did I let her call that ambulance and take him  back there?  Why didnt I make them take the damn stent out of his arm, the one that “made him ready for when he needs dialysis” which he never needed….why did I not question the care, the bandages, the rapid decline.  I wasnt in denial, I knew my dad was dying fast, but I couldnt make it right. So many regrets.  I wish he was here now to tell me one more time that it would be alright.

french vanilla ice cream

My son has pretty much raised his daughter on his own.  Her mom, a beautiful wisp of a thing, nose dived and left when the baby was 5 months old.  when the baby was just under 7 months old mom was in a car accident — riding in her car, drunk, with a guy, also drunk.  they spun out on a wet road, heading away, not towards the house where her daughter lived, at 4 in the morning and she broke her back.  And so continued the saga that has been her life.

But this post is about my son.  And his daughter.  The years have passed, the grandbaby is turning 4 tomorrow  and today my son gave her a party.  Each year we have celebrated her birthday — everything pink and soft and warm, usually i bring the decorations and cake, my oldest makes a banner and the youngest fills in with dips,chips and balloons. 

But this year was different.  We arrived to a beautiful array of cinderella and snow white.  An appetizer table, thats right, an appetizer table bedecked with onion dip and cheese queso, chips, sweet peanuts and chex mix.  And big square disney princess plates and napkins and tablecoverings.  A huge Cinderella castle balloon.  And my beautiful granddaughter holding court at the table bedecked in the Cinderella dress I had bought her last year.  My son, and his wonderful girlfriend had prepared a party fit for the princess our girl is….and they had done it without help, direction or reminders.

And they even had french vanilla ice cream.

My work here is done.

9

nine more times my phone will make its melodic, if annoying, entrance into my day at 5:30 am.  nine more days of routine and comfortable.  Then the world opens wide up and I may actually get to sleep in until 8:00 am!  Nirvana!

This day

This day reminded me that there IS hope, there IS good, there ARE people trying to do the right thing.  This day reminded me that I need to get off the pity and worry pot and get proactive, excited, empowered and directed again.  Thank you God, for this day.

loss

As i ponder the events of the last couple days i am left with a sense of emptiness, loss and, deep in my core, fear.  My family, my little cocoon, hasnt experienced any crisis, blessedly we are all intact, coherent and with the ones we love.  But, here in little Delaware, where everyone knows someone who knows someone, a tragedy unfolded, or I should say, added another layer — at the courthouse — and way too many people that I know and care about have been affected.  And I weep as i realize that guns and mental illness and unthinkable actions do affect just normal little people trying to live their lives.  And I realize that, although I always tell my students to trust that doing the right thing nets the good ending — it is, sadly, not true.

 

I am leaving teaching because I couldnt continue to lie to my students.  Politics and bad administrators had made that decision fairly easy.  But what do i do with this message of mine, this belief that good things do happen, that faith and perserverence and fighting the good fight will pay off in the end.  I feel deflated.  Even though this situation has nothing to do with me — I feel like my base has been shaken.  How do I teach young people to steal themselves against harm when this random, yet so predictable incident, occurs.  They look at me, scared young women, trying so hard to believe my message of doing the right thing, and taking the high road — as I try to talk them through the tragedy that their friend has just lived through  — losing her mother to this crazy man– and I realize, that I have nothing to say to make this make sense.  And as I admit this to them, as I tell them that all I know is that I love them, I want their world to be safe, I will always be here if they need me–I see them age a bit, harden a bit — and that scares me even more, i mourn their loss of innocence, of hope.  And I marvel at the card they make for their friend, at their attempt to gather baby clothes and text messages.  I am proud of their ability to push on.  I am saddened that they have to see this, to feel this.

A crazy man shot the mother of his grandchildren, in the courthouse.  She died.  Her friend died.  Two police officers were injured.  then the crazy man shot himself.  end of story.

But, the ripple effect continues on and on and on.  Children left without their mothers.  A beloved granddaughter left with out grandmoms hugs.  A teenage girl, trying hard to do the right thing, left to raise her baby and help with her sisters — left to twist in the wind.

16

16 days left to work in the public school system as a high school teacher.  After 22 years 9 months and 22 days (thats what they said) I am DONE.  Ive talked about why in earlier posts, but today I talk about how.  Ive been packing for a while.  My decision to retire early was made easier by the idiot administrator who said — in oral and written communication– that I should remove all personal items from my room.  Noone needed to see the pictures of my granddaughter reading a book ( three years old, I teach early ch ildhood education to high school students, seemed appropriate to me), small spongebob and mickey mouse figures balanced on the top ledge of my desk, an accent lamp circled with pictures of students and grandchildren….that was all deemed to be clutter, i was told to edit and toss.  So, i don’t have to worry about my “stuff” when I leave., it has been safely carted home.

So now i spend every spare moment ( hahahahaha, teachers know how few of those there are) going through files and bookshelves.  My copy of Very Hungry Catepillar is going with me, as well as my lesson plans.  Thats right.  I am not leaving my lesson plans for the new teacher.  There, I said it.  I am leaving with my expertise, experience, history , scope and sequene and skill tucked under my arm, labeled 1,2,3,4 — correlates with the levels I teach.   Thats HOW I am leaving.  the Curriculum, videos, puppets, teacher guides and technology ( “take all student generated signs off the wall, the boss will want to know why you have technology and arent using it”)  will still be there, all bright and shiny, but the heart of the program will be gone.  Now, I know they will build it again, and it will be wonderful, it better be, my students deserve wonderful, but let them build it on their own == they devalued what I had done,  Im taking it with me.

Also, I am leaving a room adorned with paper chains, paper dolls, student generated “bully prevention posters” and cartoons on the wall……..let the admin tell my students why their work isnt appropriate for display.  And the printer is probably gonna be real low on ink, weve been producing a bit of technology based signage also.