chillin with Ava

Tonight I went to my son’s house and spent some time, just talking with my granddaughter.  We have seven grandchildren, blessings all, and I am fortunate that I get to see them each week, they have grown up surrounded by grammy and pop’s arms.

Tonight I needed some time with Ava.  It was a horrible day.  The air hung heavy with the killings of two black men, a friend of mine was arrested for a horrendous crime…..I felt dizzy and dark and so so sad.

But Ava and I went out and played with the fairy garden for a bit.  and then we went up to her room and looked in her treasure box and talked about life, and disney world and summer camp.  and nothing.  just talked about nothing.  And I was so happy that her world is still full of enough light that she can just do that.  Spin in her chair, make fun of my singing, and hug me with those wonderful little arms when I have to leave.

Thanking God tonight for my babies.  Praying that we can find a way to change this path our society seems to be running down.

 

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She’s in

mom is in the Assisted Living home.  She has a sweet little apartment, complete with refrigerator and microwave, coffee pot and toaster. And most of her beautiful stuff, her antique desk and her grandmother’s rocker were the first pieces of furniture we brought in.  I had them all set up before she came into her room.  It made her smile, and I like to think, gave her a sense of home.

I am left to clean up the mess that was her home.  whenever you walked into moms it was dark.  Since I was a child she avoided turning on lights in the house.  her home always looked neat and tidy.  When we began to ready her move and I had to open drawers and cupboards I found out that she has kept every piece of paper to enter that house since dad died over 5 years ago, along with a multitude of bills etc. from when he was alive.  And, among these bills, checks, receipts and contracts, I found no less than 15 letters and notes   where she detailed a variety of wrongs my brother and I had done to her.  Hateful notes full of self pity and accusations of neglect and anger.  Not one, not ONE of them spoke of her great grandchildren, or her grandchildren.  Of visits to dads grave, or shopping trips or Christmas meals.  None of them spoke of her sorrow at dads passing or her memories of their past together.  Each was a scathing hit at one of us, or dad. She kept one from 1956 that she wrote to dad, a private note between a young wife and her husband, full of hatred and threats.  And they were scattered throughout her troves of papers.  You couldn’t miss them, and, for all except one dated October 2012 and the one written to my father, you couldn’t tell when they were written.  And even if now she doesn’t remember they are there — if her fog is that deep— when she wrote them, when she placed them in with these papers, she knew we would find them  .  She wrote them to cause us pain. We were meant to find them after she died, when we couldn’t confront them or her, when we couldn’t question her or dispute.  She wrote them to cause us pain.  What a pitiful, angry life.

And a lesson for me to surround myself in gratitude and joy and let the anger and pain roll off. It is just cruel to cause pain to those who love you — and to do it when it is too late for them to make it right.

How did we get here?

We took our five year old grandson to Disney last week.  It’s a tradition with us, once a grandchild turns 5 we take them on a trip — he is the third one, and the second to pick Disney as his destination.

I’m not a Disney girl.  It often feels staged and pushy, the crowds get me confused and I don’t have the patience to wait for 20 minutes ( with fast pass ) for a four minute “attraction” which may be little more than a loud neon painted carnival ride.

But, it seems to be an American Right of Passage and the grandkids love it, so I suck it up and ultimately get pulled into the pageantry and hoopla.  The one on one time with a grandchild is a treat indeed — so I push my cynicism aside and experience the Magic that is DisneyWorld.

Last Thursday evening I sat on the curb, grandson between my knees, surrounded by glow sticks and 5 year olds and watched a High School band march around the circle  in Magic Kingdom.  And, as I experienced and shared the things a child’s life should be made of — friends and music, adventure and accomplishment, Light Sabers and giggles — I tried to wrap my head around the chaos of the news that had come to me from my home town, hours earlier in the day.

You may have heard of, but probably not, Wilmington Delaware.  I grew up here, an iconic place to live, diverse, blue collar, close to the beach, Philadelphia and New York.  My friends and I thought nothing of unlocked doors and late night walks and going to dances to listen to the band.

Lately though, things have changed.  Plagued by violence, unemployment, heroin gone wild, the city has become dark, dirty,  sadness and despair permeate the air.  The news paper and television call it “Killmington” and “Murderville”, guns are everywhere, parents scared to let their kids go to the park, or onto their own front stoops.

And, on Thursday a 16 year old girl was beaten to death, TO DEATH, in the bathroom of her school.  Good God, her school. There are rumors flying about the reason, as if there could be one, or the manner in which the death occurred, but whether her head was slammed into a sink or she was stabbed, whether there were 2 assailants or 6, whether she went into that bathroom to fight a peer or discuss a problem, one thing is certain, she is dead.  All the blue balloons sent to the sky as children yell “RIP AMY”, all the vigils and television interviews won’t bring her back.  There is nothing poetic or symbolic about this.  It is sick.  It is unacceptable that a young person could walk into her school at 7:45 and never walk out.  killed at the hands of her peers, beaten to death.

I didn’t know Amy, I don’t understand the anger that could make you kill someone, and I don’t know how to solve this rage that fills so many of our young people.  Church?  Parenting?  Mentoring?  Hope?  I don’t know, I am so saddened that I just don’t know.

And, as  I sat and wondered, my grandson lifted his head and said, I love you grammy. My joy was muddled with the thoughts of a mother that will never hear her daughter say those words again.

spirits and wishes

I have a dear friend who lost her son to heroin three Christmas’ ago.  He had been fighting addiction for years — good kid, good family, bad drug, terrible ending.  Tonight she posted on facebook that she received a gift from a friend to attend a medium’s performance today.  Posted a picture of her and her 3 friends, all mothers of lost children, smiling, you could see the hope in their eyes.

And I realized, once again, how blessed and lucky I am. Today I saw all three of my kids. Hugged and spoke with all 7 of my grandchildren.  Saw my kids with their chosen partners, in love.

But for the grace…you know the rest.  I get to hold my children, all three of them.  Love them, argue with them, buy them things, make them things.  cook for them.  My friend visits the grave, fights the good fight, works to make a difference for other families.  Mourns and misses her son every minute of every day.

I really hope she heard from Ty through the medium.  I hope he told her he was fine, living the good life on the other side, clean and clear headed, watching his siblings and his dog and her and his dad fight the war on drugs. I really hope she had the sensation of a warm hug from her son.  One more time.

dad

Tonight I saw a picture of my dad, probably taken in or around 1995 or 96.  Arm around his sister, cigarette dangling from his fingers, tatoos still clear and proud.  damn I miss him.  That smile, that laugh, those eyes that never, well almost never, lost their sparkle.  He loved life, loved the people around him, loved to be doing something, almost anything.  this man could make sitting at the tides edge, digging for shells and fiddler crabs a whole day’s adventure.

I hope my kids remember their dad and I the way I remember dad.  Always present, always caring, always mine.  B0000062

IT happened Again…

it happened again.  Kids killed in school.  In a community college.  in the center of a little piece of America where people are just trying to do better.  And the news covered it — for a minute.  And the President pleaded with America to fix things — for a minute.  And I shook my head and lowered my eyes in prayer — for a minute.

And today it may happen again.  Or tomorrow.  How do we continue to send our children off to school with this happening.  How do we do nothing.

This day…

this morning I overslept.  missed the registration for a 5 k I wanted to walk/run for work.  Bummer.

But, then I went to the park and walk/ran my fastest 1k and fastest mile ever.  Redemption, almost.

After deciding I couldnt deal with my husband’s family this afternoon I went to the craft store, bought a bunch of Fall stuff and visited my dads grave.  And it hit me, all over again, I miss him so much. i valued his opinion more than almost anyones, even when I disagreed, even when the dementia was taking over and moments of lucidity were few and far between, I valued what he had to say.  I can still, if I sit very still, hear his voice, his laughter, his whistle.  Whenever he wanted me, whether I was 100 yards down the beach or on the neighbors porch, he would whistle.  And, I would come home.

Today I sat at his grave and discussed these health issues that are raising their head.  Since they mirror the conditions he dealt with, I asked for his guidance, his help, a little intervention — to get me through.  I hung his new flag, I straightened the flowers, kissed his stone, and left.  I cant say I felt better.  But I felt that he had been there with me.  And I know he knows I miss him.

night guest

My mother spent the night.  thunderstorms took out her power so we went over and picked her up.  Actually husband did, I was pulling branches off the road….

I have a new respect for those who work in the geriatric field.

Mom spends a bit of time here, but went room to room commenting “thats new, isnt it?” to every piece of furniture, carpet or knick knack she spotted ..Noooooo, Ive had that since our first house, since the second house,,,,Noooo, that stained glass has been hanging in my kitchen for 18 years.  yup.

She doesnt do steps, years of restless leg syndrome coupled with ” I dont want to walk” syndrome has left her legs weak and wobbley.  But my bedrooms are upstairs.  So I followed her up, impressed with her strength — she made it up there pretty well. I was concerned that she would see the pictures of her and my dad on the desk in the guest room and get upset, i was hoping that they would make her smile, but neither.  she didnt notice them.  She noticed the bookshelf, “is that new?” and the beleek lamp “thats beautiful” but not a glance at the pictures of the man she loved, who we lost 4 years ago.

Morning came early.  I get up around 6 to take a walk and spend some time knitting before getting ready for work.  she met me in the hall — I asked her to wait a second while I threw on a tee shirt and shorts, then we would get her down the stairs.

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She didnt wait, of course.  Im in the bathroom, shirt half on, and I hear the “babump”.
“Oh Cindy, I fell, I hurt my knee.”

Opened the door to my room and there she sat.  perched on her butt on the landing — she either lost her footing or her knee went out.  Thank God she just did a hard sit down, and didn’t slide the whole way down the stairs.  the knee is fine, no swelling, we got her down the stairs without further excitement and she sits in the kitchen now, nursing a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal.

I have a new respect for geriatric caregivers.

convoluted times

Last evening I attended, and participated in, an amazing event.  Young teachers and community leaders gathered to gether with youth and had roundtable discussions about education, and community and trust.  I left there uplifted, enamored with the people I had met and the resolve that resonated through the room .   We can make a difference.

And I returned home to turn on the television to see flashing lights and hear sirens.  A mass shooting in Charleston.  9 people dead, murdered at the hands of a young sick soul.  Where does a 21 year old find that much anger and hatred.  How does a church, where people are gathered in prayer, become a bloodbath.  And I am ashamed.  of my race.  of my country for allowing guns to be handed out like Star Wars litesabers, of the future that we are leaving to our children.

and I weep.  And I pray.