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Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren’

My grandchildren are fabulous and funny. (Erica Jong)

Nine-year-old Rebe (Rebecca) announces that it is time to play. Her tone suggests Grandma hasn’t been feeling well and needs more entertainment and less work. At the same time, she is here to entertain and be entertained. It’s the nature of the grandparent/grandchild relationship.

Imagination explodes through these small rooms as Rebe and thirteen-year-old Kate feed off one idea after another.

“I’m getting married,” Rebe announces.

She’s marrying a famous film star Kate suggests. However, Rebe constantly calls him by the wrong name, Ansel.

“You’re marrying someone, and don’t know his name?” I ask.

“That’s okay. I’ll just call him sweetie.”

She leaves the room to hunt for bridal gowns—at a local dollar outlet.

On the offbeat wedding day with the famous-actor-without-an-identity groom. Kate and Rebe design the veil: a shawl, held securely on her head with a pair of antediluvian white cotton underwear.

Then, seconds after Rebe removes the bridal dress, one of my white t-shirts, she is ready to deliver her first child. Or rather fifteen babies.

I don’t have anywhere near that many dolls and stuffed animals. Our fertile mama’s hyperbole delivery lowers to ten infants. Kate improvises the last child. She designs a creature from some of my summer clothes, and a pillow, held together with an Ace wrap and stretch band, with a toy Dora, the Explorer backpack head.

My grandchildren’s ingenuity can’t stay wrapped around pillows and scattered across the floor as make-believe infants forever. However, I celebrate this moment and cough through laughs.

No life is perfect. Illness, as well as problems both personal and world-wide, interfere and must be faced. Yet, beauty is not dead. I see it in two pair of bright eyes and hear it in two young voices.

I can echo Erica Jong: my grandchildren are mighty fabulous and funny, too. And I am grateful.

 

 

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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. (Carl Sagan)

I laugh at my middle granddaughter Rebecca’s antics long after she leaves with Daddy. She loves to play with an old pair of crutches that are too big for a nine-year-old girl. Each time she has a different pretend reason why she needs them.

Today’s reason: “I have boneless disease.”

She relays the surgical procedure, including plastic-skull placement with an occasional ouch; then she rises from a chair and reaches for the crutches. The OR is our backyard. She claims that all she needs to sustain her now, besides the beloved crutches, is a house filled with medicine. She pretends to swallow the first roomful.

I smile on the outside and chuckle internally.

“You raised my daddy. You raised my daddy,” she repeats the same line with a rising chuckle. Yet, I know she wants to be just like her father.

Rebe’s daddy, Gregory Petersen, is an author and a stand-up comic. Rebe’s wit is already sharp. Moreover, she has my complete attention, and she thrives on it.

When she is not in pretend-mode, Rebe is one-hundred percent honest. Two years ago, when I gave her a signed copy of The Curse Under the Freckles, a middle-grade fantasy, she took one look at it and asked where the pictures were. She knows I write, but she sees me as her ancient playmate.

Imagination doesn’t need to disappear with childhood. I happen to be a very old youngster.

By late spring, early summer, the sequel to my first book will appear—Stinky, Rotten, Threats. (No link yet. All is in progress.)

Chase Powers and his magic woods friends are attending summer school. Chase failed sixth grade—he studies both everyday fractions as well as how to use magical skills. His friends are self-motivated. They have natural smarts; they grew up with magic.

Of course, even school in a magical setting doesn’t follow the teacher’s plan. The adults in Chase’s family enter the woods for instruction, and Chase sees how much trouble newbies can be. Add interference from the evil Malefics… Then, Chase sees a change in the magical world he could never imagine even with the most potent tools.

Boneless disease never appears in my story. That fantasy belongs to my granddaughter.

Chase Powers is a fantasy character in a world that does not exist. However, his character thinks, feels, and acts like a twelve-year-old boy.  Anna, his friend, is a near-genius who has a knack for unintentionally getting under Chase’s skin, the way real people do sometimes.

Even so, something incredible is about to happen.  In the story, and in real life. Yes, a lot of bad news rolls off commentators’ tongues with the same tone of voice used to forecast a partly cloudy day. Ugliness is real.

However, so is beauty. A friend calls. A child draws a picture—just for Grandma, Mommy or the dog. Not all brightness comes from sun. Hope is like a seed, or a plot. You can’t tell how it will grow in the beginning.

I do hope you will bother to turn a page that promises a lead out of darkness. Of course, I would recommend my own work. However, if anyone has suggestions for inspirational titles, go for it. I am always glad to hear about a good, positive-minded book.

Peace, and may something incredible touch all.

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You can never spend enough time with children. (Dwayne Hickman)

Dakota sits in the Captain’s chair as he punches tickets for passengers. When he isn’t driving an imaginary boat, I use that seat to work at the computer. (However, when I write I don’t use the swivel function for steering.) Dakota is spending time with me and Jay because his mommy is working toward a degree. She is in class, and Dakota isn’t. He is recovering from an ear infection. With the same speed he does everything else, quickly.

“How much are the tickets?” I ask, knowing that as a crew member this question would be ludicrous. Uh, shouldn’t that be printed somewhere on a board with letters the size of the E on an eye chart? Dakota is in a fantasy world. I am investigating his play. For fun. Imagination adjusts the rules.

“Three dollars.”

That sounds reasonable. However, after a few more hole punches and the tiny centers create confetti on the rug, he hands me the next ticket. “Four dollars.”

From my point of view the cost difference is either for inflation or the cost of clean-up. Then he turns, eyes wide. “This one is twenty-three-hundred dollars.”

For the boat? “Wow! That seat must be really special.”

His eyes sparkle. I manage not to laugh out loud, and he nods. I place the ticket, representing the position of the paying passenger, next to his chair.

My little buddy is priceless.

I had other plans for today, nothing set in stone, only in intention—to finish more projects than possible. Instead, I received the opportunity to meet heart-to-heart with an almost six-year-old boy, a far richer time for my spirit.

Dakota takes a picture of me while I take one of him.

 

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The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. (Victor Hugo)

Ella has scarcely removed her coat when she runs to a shoe box full of small toys. A special Friday. A day off school. Time to play.

She grabs the plastic slide and the character, Diego. I know she will want Dora the Explorer next, so I reach for the figure closer to the same size. (We have several Doras in the box.) Ella chooses the slightly larger figure.

Size is not significant in the world of make-believe. I forget. Play is my granddaughter’s realm. She makes most of the choices here. She needs to yield to the adult world often enough. In make-believe, she has more experience.

We take turns leading the figures down the slide: on their bellies, head first, up the wrong way, and one friend giving the other a gentle nudge to move faster. Then Ella decides head first means vertical, with feet facing up. She laughs.

She is a child, but she lives in the real world, too. She is aware of the attitudes others have toward her whether she can verbally express what she knows or not. Talking about her struggles in her presence, is unfair. Even cruel.

Yes, Ella has Down syndrome. She needs to work harder in some areas. However, she has been reading for several years—sounding out words, not simply memorizing them. Ella has a sense of humor.

“Look!” she says. She turns Diego’s head around.

“Are you doing that again?” I say for Dora. Then I turn Dora’s head around. “But, you do it so much better, Diego.”

Ella howls with laughter.

I suggest placing the two figures on the back of a plush ladybug. “Let’s fly.” Our fantasy world continues.

That’s how I know I’ve been completely accepted into her imaginative space. I consider it a promotion.

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Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. (Karl Barth)

Today is Groundhog’s Day, although the critter isn’t on my mind as I drive a familiar route home. The sun is out. Six weeks until spring—or six times seven days of winter, however you want to look at it. Essentially, the cold doesn’t last forever. Nothing does.

Right now, I look at the strong contrast between blue and shadow. I think about hope and try to see its expression in nature, in recent events. Not many of those moments fit into the world scene, although a few examples of courage stand out, people risking high-ranking positions to protect folk ousted because of prejudice, fear, hate.

In my middle-grade fantasies I write about good being stronger than evil. (The first book came out in 2015; the second should appear in May.) In the real world, I pray for awareness. How do I find it and stay with its power? Good can only be strong when it shines past the gray, inside the gray, despite the gray.

Tomorrow, or at any moment, the dullness can reappear. I celebrate the temporary and all that leads to gratitude.

I’m home before I realize my car is in the driveway. My gratitude list is not yet completed…

blue-sky_li

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Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. (Albert Schweitzer)

My first physical therapy appointment has brought hope. I learn a few spasm-charming tools.

Later that day I occasionally hum along with the music during exercise class. My balance isn’t bad for a senior citizen. I can stand on one foot without needing to hold onto anything—not with the finesse of a mime or the grace of a ballet dancer, but miracles have their limitations.

No divine magic wand has struck the world and made everything well with the earth either. That does not mean I need to dwell on ugliness every second of the day. I have decided to act, speak, give, join groups that foster change, never with an attitude of hate.

Why is a pipeline more important than the law, or the rights of ordinary people? I believe the differences in race, religion, and ethnic origin add richness to our country and world. Responding with venom to those who can’t understand only creates more venom. Many organizations exist to help. With support. I pray help arrives in time.

In the meantime, I try to live today and find people who envision the light capable of uncovering both corruption and greed as well as the power of the people.

I speak to an upbeat, sunshine-minded woman after exercise class. She asks about my granddaughter, Ella. The woman comments on the sweetness of Ella’s double-jointed antics in front of the mirror, the last time Jay and I brought her to the Y. I answer with recent stories.

The woman tells me about her niece born weighing little more than a pound. The doctor and staff told the girl’s mother they didn’t expect the baby to make it—not with the number of complications she faced. The little girl just celebrated her second birthday.

This lovely woman and I hug. I feel as if I have been given a power boost, to face the next challenge, whether it be physical, in my immediate circle, or in the world.

Perhaps the next time I see my comrade I will find the words, time, and space to tell her she brought light to a blown-out flame.

Peace upon all, whether we agree on the best way to run-the-world or not.

annefrank-despite-everything-i-believe

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Having a place to go—is a home. Having someone to love—is a family. Having both—is a blessing. (Donna Hedges)

A group of eight friends gathers. Our purpose is spiritual; we share our lives as they are, not as we want them to be. S has thirteen children, now grown. At one time she took in a boy who had been abused. S’s family was suburban white with Cherokee ancestry; the little boy was dark as sweet milk chocolate. When a family picture was taken the boy slipped in with the rest of the village-sized group.

However, when friends and extended family saw the photo they raised their eyebrows. “Uh, something we don’t know?” The children saw him as part of the family. The boy hugged S, and called her Mom. His temporary siblings realized how little his skin color mattered. The boy did matter.

In fact, when the time came for the child to move on six years later, S. had tears running down her face. A part of her left with him.

My husband lies in a hospital bed. He is improving, with the progress expected of a patient who has been in bed for a week and a half after surgery. Discharge date could be soon. Maybe not. No way out of walking through the fearful places.

“I live here,” I say to the cafeteria staff when they notice I’ve become a regular. It’s easier to get a sympathetic smile, and then go on.

This experience can’t be explained in a few words anyway. Sure, the doctor and staff can talk about how digestion works, and how long it takes for the body to function again. The experts can’t predict how human spirits will act and interact. Hope comes through other people.

And friends and family have appeared like sun drying flooded waters.

Finally, a chance to breathe arrives. A trip to dinner—my meal is paid. Movie and ice cream—my wallet remains closed. And my sons decide I could use a little time with my grandkids. They are right on!

We go to a local restaurant. A blackboard covers one wall in the back corner. My three girls pretend to be teachers. I am the only pupil. The two older kids take turns. Ella fills the board with dainty designs that become one mass of lines; she covers herself with chalk dust. When I ask her a question she uses the appropriate teacher face. And I know I am honored to be here as Grandma, the student.

I think about S and her family. I don’t know them. I’ve never met the young boy who is certainly a man by now. But, I know that the gifts of things haven’t made the deepest impressions in my life. The present of presence? It makes all the difference in the world.

struggle part of the story

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