Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tidings of comfort and joy

There are moments in my life when I catch a glimpse of something fleeting, something good which hints at hope and endurance. One such moment happened this past week.

Daughter Jenn appeared on my doorstep, Santa hat in hand and a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

"Mom, a blogger friend of mine, Neil Kramer, is hosting his annual blog-community holiday celebration online and he wants us to contribute. You can play your accordion."

What to play? Deadline was upon us. Pressure was on.

My inner Child smirked and thought,"What the heck? It's only a virtual community, just play a Christmas song and act a bit silly. It's not like standing in front of a live audience." Anonymity rules.

So I hauled out the squeezebox, Jenn put on her Santa hat, and we let it rip.

Extemporaneous combustion. Something so right about the two of us giggling our way through an old holiday classic. Working it. Together. Mom and daughter. We had never quite done something like this before.

When I look at the playback, I am pleasantly surprised. I see the girl I had once been, the kid who grew up surrounded by a father and extended family of musicians who often spontaneously combusted into singalongs and party celebrations. Live music was a given in my family. The accordion I'm playing was part of a rite of passage for me, especially ordered by my uncle for my twelfth birthday. And the darn thing still plays! How amazing is that? All the voices and players are long gone. Yet, there is an energy they've left behind. My daughter comes to me with an unexpected request and, suddenly, I find myself tapping into that energy.

I think my ancestors knew exactly what Jenn and I needed.

It's been a hard couple years. Lots of tears, worry, and doubt. I've seen my daughter at some of the lowest points of her life. Monday changed all that. Her inner Child and mine got to play.

Pure JOY.

Seeing Jenn come alive and sparkle, carefree and funny ... to share that lightness with her is all the gift I need this holiday season.

**If you're looking for this magic moment, go to the embedded link above. Jenn and I are about #9 in the scroll-down list of performers. Take the time to view some of the other entries. They will make you smile and cry. A cornucopia of holiday cheer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Matters of the heart

I've taken the plunge. After quite a long hiatus, I'm back into the intriguing, amusing, and frustrating world of online dating.

It's only been a few weeks but I've already been "quivered" and flirted with by men: a) looking for a mother or grandmother figure. Singlebiker is 29 but "prefers older women". Honey, I could have been changing your diapers; b) Mysteryman is 49 and thinks I'm hot. I know I shouldn't squelch the whole Ashton-Demi vibe, but this guy was in his diapers when I was going to my senior prom; c) Men with fish. What is it about older men and their online profile pics? Dear God, I have never viewed so many men in plaid shorts standing next to their dead tuna. Is this all about size? Really; d) Short men in black muscle shirts posing in front of their refrigerator. Do you think I'm stupid, bud? You're claiming to be 6 feet tall and yet you don't even come up to your freezer door. And I bet you just may have a year's supply of frozen tuna stashed in that freezer; e) You're gonna love this one: 88-year-old men who write IN ALL CAPS THAT THEY DON'T WANT A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP. Hell, at 88, it's pretty much evident. But they do want sex, plenty of sex. I think I should invest in the pharmaceutical company that makes Viagra. I'll be a rich woman in no time.

Amidst all these "catches" (sorry, I'm back to fish), I have managed to identify a few possibilities and started corresponding with men my age. Now it gets even more challenging. One guy seemed so compatible until I found his online questionnaire which revealed that he was in a former "slave/master relationship" and entertains rape fantasies. Babci and bondage? I think I'll pass and save the hot sex for my fanfic.

Yes, I am selective and do choose guys who: a) DON'T USE CAPS; b) know how to spell; c) know the difference between a comma and a semi-colon (am I being too selective?); d) Smile in their profile pics, seem to have good teeth (or dentures), and don't look like undertakers. It's not that I'm prejudiced against funeral directors but, recently, I've been having some heart palpitations. Low-grade fever. Breathlessness. All this without sex. I swear. Now my daughter wants me to make out a will and give her all my online passwords. Dammit, given the circumstances, I'd be crazy to start a serious relationship with someone who'd remind me of the Grim Reaper.

Mr. Right? Mr. Big? Mr. Halibut? Maybe he's out there in cyberspace just waiting for me to "flirt" him with a smiley emoticon. My ideal online match? A retired cardiologist with a great bedside manner.

I go for my two-day cardiac-stress test next week.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Contracting, expanding

My social network has shrunk since moving up here to be closer to my daughter and her children. This is no one's fault but mine as I have focused mostly on the unexpected transitions occurring within the past couple years, changes which were not part of the future I had planned when I chose to leave job, hometown, and lifelong friends. The cup was supposed to be half full. I even dreamed of an in-law cottage. Happy couple. Happy grandkids. Happy me.

Instead, there has been a lot of pain and loss. It's not easy to watch a marriage collapse and dreams dissolve. Perhaps the only thing of worth I can offer is my presence. At times, it does not seem enough. Yet, somehow, I've managed to stay on my feet and offer steady comfort during some of the darker moments. I can see this in the eyes of my granddaughters and hear it in my daughter's words of gratitude.

Suddenly, there is a bit of slack in our relationship. My daughter tells me to think of myself, to find what gives me pleasure. My granddaughters smile and lovingly tease me to worry less.

I show up at the local ice-skating rink to take videos of the girls. Jenn straps on a pair of ice skates and ventures on to the ice with Sophie and Hannah. The three of them surprise me. They are sure footed, less wobbly than I had imagined they would be. Even the youngest, Hannah, glides by effortlessly and with such determination. Occasionally, they fall down but bounce up quickly.

I am amazed at their grace and resilience. In my heart, I compare their skating to the larger life lessons they are learning: holding on and letting go, slipping, falling, getting up again, regaining balance.

Watching and waiting. Seasons of sadness but, recently, subtle changes for the better. More laughter, less tears. Something good is happening. I can feel it, sense it. There is a quiet strength rippling under the surface, something new waiting to be born.

My gaze returns to the threesome on the ice. They are finding their rhythm, their speed ... testing their wings.

Dare I think of butterflies?

I want to believe in Spring.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Music lessons

Sophie loves to sing. Since she was a toddler, she would delight us with her sweet voice. As she got older, the once familiar nursery-rhyme songs turned not only to show tunes and pop music but also to original, lyrical creations of her own. I love that she finds joy in making music. I started my own music lessons at the age of eight. Now that she was the same age, what better Christmas present than to offer her singing lessons with a local teacher.

Tonight was the big night! I picked Sophie up at her dad's house. She was dressed in her Sunday best and wriggling into her golden slippers when I had to remind her of the snow on the ground and the need for boots. She obviously wanted to make a good impression. She also brought a journal and small matching notepad so that she and the teacher could make all necessary notes. Excitement was mounting ...

The teacher lives on a winding back road; it was an adventure just driving up the snowy hill. When we arrived, I asked Sophie if she wanted me to stay or leave her and come back at end of the lesson. Sophie chose time alone with her new teacher which I thought was very brave. She could not wait to meet her and jump into this whole new experience. She also needed to be assured that, if she practiced and stayed committed, I would keep my end of the bargain and continue to take her to weekly lessons.

I left Sophie and returned later to find her singing in front of a music stand while the teacher was accompanying her on the piano nearby. I had quietly let myself in and it was such a lovely moment to watch her singing so freely, her back to me and unaware that I was in the room. She seemed to be having fun and the teacher seemed pleased with her new pupil. "Sophie has such a pretty voice."

My dad and my maternal grandmother loved to sing. I have an old, old recording of them and other family members singing at my christening. They are, of course, all gone now - all the voices who expressed themselves in song, who found strength in music.

It warms my heart to know that a new voice will be heard, a new generation. Sophie, welcome to the club!