Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How it feels

I was invited over to Jenn and David's the other night after work, an impromptu email from David announcing that Sophie was holding a bake sale for the local humane society. By the time I arrived, the sidewalk table was bare but the hand-drawn sign (which included drawings of a dog or two in Sophie's inimitable style) pitched slices of fresh banana bread at 25 cents apiece. The girls were home on holiday and David turned them into bakers, creative energy culminating in a worthy cause. A couple neighbors were standing nearby and assured me that the bake sale had, indeed, sold out - a success!

I climbed the steps and went inside. The girls were now watching TV but Sophie let me know that she netted $10 for the local strays. We have two animal shelters nearby and Jenn gave Sophie her choice of where to donate, explaining that the one shelter was a sadder place, more worn down and struggling than the newer, larger location. Sophie thought her options over carefully while we sat down to dinner and chose the more destitute and beleaguered for her donation. We all applauded her decision. Then we ate. We all sat around the table and David explained some of his Passover weekend to me while we shared in leftovers and talked about rituals.

I find this quite amazing.

My adult children are splitting up, each seeking to go in new directions. And, still, we sit at the table and care enough to speak of things and activities that are important to each of us. I am flying to London in a week through the generosity of a friend; David's father has been ill; Jennifer's company has moved. We break bread and listen. Banana bread. The girls eat hard-boiled eggs while we eat home-made salads from Sophie's birthday weekend. The eggs were part of Passover dishes but they play a part in Easter celebrations too. Eggs. New life, new beginnings.

I want the best for all my children. I still find it surreal and sad to know that this marriage is ending. Yet endings lead to fresh beginnings. I wonder. I worry. I try to understand.

Does a son-in-law remain a son-in-law after a divorce? Can I love my daughter yet confess love for the man who loved her and co-produced two beautiful, sensitive little girls? My grandchildren.

This is strange territory for all of us. No road map to guide the way. We are learning as we're going.

The hardest part of becoming a mother-in-law is letting yourself trust that your children have chosen well. That's why the divorce is so hard. There was (and still is) love involved. I hold on to that as I hope in the future for happiness for each of them.

There are times when it is good, very good, to be invited to the family table to share a meal and each other's presence, to accept the moment for what it is - a blessing. And then to release it.

We will get through this, all of us in our own way.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Make a wish

My first granddaughter turned seven today. There was a garden party ... sundresses, giggling girlfriends, arts and crafts, music for dancing, and a mom and dad who worked hard to make their little girl's day memorable and fun.

It was.

May all your wishes come true, Sophie. And may you be surrounded by forever friends, forever.

Love, Babci xxoo

Saturday, April 12, 2008

She dosn't write, she doesn't call ...

but in case your momma does email you, you must check out this website which one of Jenn's readers posted at her blog. It is side-splitting funny and really makes me feel quite normal. Whatever that is.

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Girl

A girl and her doll. Not long ago, I took Sophie to an American Girl musical production at a theater in a nearby town. The night before, a mommy-friend of Jenn and David's dropped by their house and presented Sophie with a matching outfit for her and Kaya, her American Girl doll. This was a spontaneous act of kindness. The mom was shopping and saw the dresses, knew that I was taking Sophie to the show, and decided to surprise her. I arrived that Saturday and there stood Sophie at the head of the stairs, all aglow with excitement and looking adorable. Unfortunately, she couldn't find her school shoes and was almost in tears, so we stopped at a local mall on the way to the theater and Sophie got to pick out some new shoes, black patent leather. It was Easter weekend and sales galore, so we found a snazzy pair of play shoes too.

As we were walking to the theater, a tall man passed us and asked if we were coming to see the play. He was one of the actors from the touring company of Seattle Children's Theatre and played Addy's father. He complimented Sophie on her and her doll's dresses. Sweet man. More kindness.

We had seats in the balcony. There was a pole in the row in front of us and, every chance she got, Sophie propped her feet up on the pole so she could look at her shiny new shoes. She let me know that the stones in her shoes were not real diamonds but rhinestones. She said she could feel the difference ("real diamonds are sharper"). I couldn't help but think of Paul Simon's Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes ... that's how thrilled she was with these shoes. There were girls in the theater who had more expensive catalog matching outfits, their moms taking photos of the carefully groomed but somewhat pretentious kiddies. The child who sat next to us seemed sad as she watched the more privileged children. Sophie saw that this little girl had no American Girl to bring to the show with her and sat clutching her raffle ticket throughout the play. At the end, there was a raffle for four American Girl dolls. Sophie turned to the little girl and told her that she hoped she would win. A smile crossed the girl's face and I felt very proud of Sophie. Another act of kindness. Neither Sophie nor her seat mate won any dolls. But Sophie had acknowledged another child's longing and that had value in itself.

We ended a busy day with dinner at a new restaurant. The grown-up waitress was excited to see Sophie's American Girl as she had collected the dolls when she was younger. Sophie is at an age where the conversation has jumped to a more grown-up level. We talk about allowances, saving money in assorted piggy banks, and just how much each household task is worth. Sophie assigns dollars to her chores but thinks Hannah should get only 50 cents because, after all, kid sister is only four! Sometimes shy, sometimes sad, Sophie can also be bright and funny; I find her to be a perfect companion.

My American girl.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bragging rights

This is Ben, my only grandson. He's seven years old. His dad just sent me some photos that Ben took all by himself while they were hiking. Joe gave him the digital camera and told Ben to point and shoot. Obviously Ben did much more than that. These photos show that the kid has quite an eye for design and perspective.

His daddy loves photography too and I can imagine the guys putting on a father-and-son exhibit one day.

Grandmoms dream big. Great job, Ben!

Monday, April 07, 2008

A little knowledge

Is all I want, really. I've not been leading a healthy life style lately. You noticed? Shoveling is my version of aerobic exercise. I huff and puff when I walk up the hill to Jenn's and this past week I have some chest discomfort when walking a flat bike path with a co-worker. She, a straight-shooter, casually looks at me and says "you probably have a blocked artery". We part company at the end of the trail - I let her take the high road (she does this daily) and I hobble back via the more narrow but level path. I keep thinking of Frost and his road less traveled. Wonder if he had any chest pain.

I'm going out-of-country at the end of the month, flying to London. Why I'm going will have a blog entry all its own. I decide to do the logical, adult thing and call my family doctor. "Sure, come on down", he says. I go. I have an EKG. It is fairly good; however, the doc does not define fairly. We talk. I tell him I had this kind of feeling lots of times when I lived in Philly and that I had an echo-cardiogram and stress tests and nothing suspicious. But I'm flying to London and I've read some scary online news lately about defibrillators not working and no air marshalls on the plane and nasty attendants and empty oxygen containers so ... better to be prepared, eh?

The nurse will call me tomorrow when she manages to clear an approval for a stress test for couch potatoes who have no stamina for a treadmill. That's me. I will have to lie on my back while technicians inject all kinds of fun things into my veins to simulate stress. I have enough real stress but nothing like going to a hospital to add a bit more. Now, while my body is stressing, they will take about 30 minutes' worth of piccies. Heart, do your thing! Then I return for a second day so they can shoot a radioactive sliver into my vein and make me all glowy and touchy feely.

All this before London. I hope. I hope there is no residual effect with the radioactive glowy thingy that will cause me to set off alarms as I go through airport security. I hope they can also knock me unconscious in the hospital while they play with my body.

I come home, open a can of tuna (oblivious to the mercury content since I've got other things to worry about), dump it on top of lettuce, spritz a lite balsamic vinaigrette, and eat my first heart-healthy meal in months! It is fairly good, like my EKG.

I then proceed to research Persantine Nuclear Cardiac Stress Test online at a Swedish Hospital website which seems like a contradiction because Scandinavians eat plenty of fish and ski a lot. Why the hell would they need a heart test? I take a closer look and realize the hospital is in Chicago. I keep reading. I read way, way too much. Ignorance is bliss; I'm toast. Radioactive toast. And nuclear. Holy latte, I'll need national-security clearance for this test.

Finally, I go to the Heart Association Red Dress website where Marie Osmond, looking adorable and perky in her red dress, is telling me how she came backstage from one of her Vegas shows, huffing and puffing (sound familiar?) and her son tells her he doesn't want her to drop dead. Yeah, good point. By now, I'm chewing my fingernails. Marie is beaming; she's lost 40 pounds. Dancing with the Stars will do that for you. Since my one shot at ballroom dancing was a disaster, I decide that I'll have to find another way to drop the weight, like cutting off my right leg.

If Marie can send me her personal trainer, dietitian and cook, I will be ever so grateful.

One cannot live on tuna fish alone.