A Question For Grandma

I have seven grandchildren; six grandsons and one granddaughter.  The six eldest are now teenagers ranging in age from 17 to 13.  Our youngest grandson turned 5 this past July.

When the six older grandchildren were little, I started calling them all Roy, including our granddaughter.  I told then I was doing this in case I became forgetful as I got older and couldn’t remember their names.  The boys thought it was hilarious that I also called our granddaughter Roy.

The fun thing was that when all the grandkids were at the house playing outside I would just yell Roy and they would all come running, laughing like crazy.  I thought of it as something special between us.  When our youngest grandson was born he was known as Little Roy.

Something else I always did with my grandchildren was to randomly ask them “who loves you”.  Their answers were always “you do”.  I realized the other day, after a conversation with my youngest grandson that I haven’t asked that question of my teenage grandchildren in a long time.

I will have to remedy that.

I have never seen myself as a very demonstrative person.  I always knew my parents loved me but I don’t ever remember hearing the words.  Saying “I love you” is not always easy for me.  With age sometimes comes wisdom and I’m working on that, consciously saying the words, especially to those who are important to me.  I don’t want them to assume, like I did, I want them to hear the words and know they are loved.

Unfortunately old habits and patterns are difficult to break and my most recent reminder came from Texas.

Hubby’s cousin, Patsy, moved back home with her husband, Len.  They are two very kind, thoughtful and caring people.

Patsy’s mother, Aunt Marian, was such a loving, kind, thoughtful woman who loved freely and shared that love with everyone.  The first time I visited Aunt Marian and her family as a young bride, I remember feeling so uncomfortable.  They were not the cause of my discomfort, it was something within me.  You see, Aunt Marian and her family hugged each other just leaving and entering a room.  “I love you’s” were said like “hello’s” and you knew they were genuine.  Aunt Marian was always telling someone “you’re so special”,  “you’re so wonderful”, or “you make me so happy”.

Patsy reminds me of her Mom and has also reminded me that the words are just as important as the actions.

The other day Little Roy was riding along with me as I drove to finish my last errand, and as always he talked about everything.  the changing colors of the trees, the shapes and colors of the clouds, what his brothers did, how he cracked his Mom’s cell phone and was grounded.

We were chatting along and I asked him “who loves you”.

“You do” was his immediate reply.  He then started talking about how he won’t be going to kindergarten because he doesn’t like school and his next questions was “Grandma, will you love me when I get big”?

“Of course I will” I told him, “just like I love your older cousins”

“Will you love me when I get older” I asked him.

“Grandma, you’re already old” he calmly told me.

“Yes, I know I’m old but hopefully I’ll get older.  If my hair turns white and I get wrinkles (luckily he let that go by), will you love me then” I asked him.

“Yep” was his short and sweet answer.

He changed the subject to where we were going next and we talked about that; one question leading to ten more.

“Will you love me forever, Grandma” he asked out of the blue.

“Yes I will” I told him.

“Forever is a long time Grandma” he reminded me.

“Yes, I know.  That’s exactly how long I’ll love you”.

Three little words, so very important to say.

 

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Just For Today

Driving home today I noticed that the leaves are starting to change colors.  I actually saw some leaves turning yellow with hints of orange.  It seems like just yesterday school was ending for the summer.  Now it’s August and time to think about going back to school in a few short weeks.  Seeing back to school commercials on the television I mentioned to Grandson #7 that he’d being going back to school soon.  “I’m not going to school” he told me and the look on his face spoke volumes.  I just laughed thinking that will be Mom’s battle when the time comes.

July was a month of heat, humidity and celebrations.  Sister #5 hosted a 4th of July picnic, we attended a nephew’s wedding, and our youngest grandson turned 5.  “A whole hand” as his older cousin once said.

I hosted our monthly sister meeting which was rather low keyed.  There were no games or disagreements,  just conversation and being together.  I did try a new recipe, BLT pasta, which was good but nothing that would tempt me to make again.

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No garden was planted this year as hubby wasn’t feeling it.  He said it was good to give the ground a rest. I told him that excuse worked for me.  However, our daughter-in-law discovered tomato plants growing among the weeds in hubby’s raised beds so she got busy pulling weeds.  It was a pleasant surprise to find several nice cherry tomato plants growing from last year’s tomatoes.  A little gardenner helped her with the weeding.  I asked him about the winter boots he was wearing.  “Grandma, the snakes can’t bite me when I wear my boots”.

When we bought our home in 1981 my Dad gave me a cutting from a wild rose bush that he let grow beside a shed.  The words “let grow” are important because Dad was not a flowery kind of guy but for some reason he liked that rose bush.

Hubby planted it for me and it took root and grew.  It has always been a tempermental rose bush, blooming like crazy some years, not flowering other times or only sharing a few roses.

Last Autumn, my youngest sister decided to sell the family home and she told me to take Mom’s rose bush which was planted in the front yard.  Last summer Mom’s rose was a cream colored flower with a salmon color around the tips of the petals.  In years past, when the petals would drop after blooming, a few weeks later, another rose would bloom.  It wasn’t always the same color, it might be a solid cream or a solid salmon color.  This didn’t happen every year but when it did it was special.

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Again, Hubby planted Mom’s rose bush for me next to Dad’s rose bush.  “I can’t guarantee this will take root” he told me and I told him not to worry, it would grow if it was meant to grow.  Well, I’m happy to say Mom’s rose bloomed this summer, just once, and Dad’s wild rose bush was full of roses.  It was kind of nice seeing them bloom together.

August began with expectations of Hubby’s surgery on the 7th to correct a very painful large tear in his shoulder.  The insurance company, however, decided that it wasn’t medically necessary and up until the evening before his scheduled surgery I was discussing the matter with “advocates” at the insurance company.

To say it was frustrating is an understatement.  I realized it wasn’t the advocate’s fault but knowing the conversation was recorded for review I politely stated that it wasn’t as if Hubby decided he had nothing better to do on the 7th so lets have someone cut into his shoulder.  I also pointed out that we pay for Medicare and the Medicare Advantage plan we have yet a “for profit entity” is determining what services we can or can not have.

His surgery was cancelled.  I was very frustrated and angry and I held on to those feelings much longer than I should have.   My bad but typical for me.

While driving home from the store this afternoon the phrase “just for today” popped into my head.  I thought about that as I drove, wondering where it came from.

Thinking about it for a while, I realized I wasn’t remembering the important moments.

Mom and Dad’s roses blooming.  The little gardener pulling weeds to help his Mom find the tomato plants.  The beautiful, sunny summer days full of bird song.  The music the trees make as the summer breezes blow through their leaves.  The beauty of a clear, brilliant, blue summer sky; a beautiful canvas for the cotton candy like white clouds as they slowly drift along.  The sound of thunder as it rumbles across the hills surrounding our home during a summer storm.  Joining together with family to celebrate life’s moments.  Visiting with Hubby’s cousin Patsy and listening to the music they created, he  on his guitar and she on her ukulele.  The sound of their voices blending so wonderfully as they sang together while we sat together on her porch on a warm summer evening.

The fact that each morning I wake up is a gift, to be enjoyed and cherished.

Someone was reminding me that I needed to take a look at what I was allowing to be important in my world.

I have said before that I tend to hold onto stuff when I should be letting it go.  I work daily on changing how I react to things and not let myself go into the land of “what if”.  Sometimes I win and sometimes that bitch, anxiety, wins.

I constantly remind myself to believe that what is meant to be is what will happen.  Fretting and over thinking won’t stop anything from happening.

Three little words.

Just for today, I will treasure each moment, great or small.  Just for today I will let go of all that belongs to yesterday.  Just for today, I won’t worry about what tomorrow might bring.

Every morning I’ll try to remind myself to think “just for today”.

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner….me.

 

 

 

 

Can You Believe?

Have you ever had the feeling you weren’t alone when you were the only one in the room?

Have you ever thought you heard someone call your name when there wasn’t anyone there but you?

Have you ever known something was going to happen before it happened?

Do you believe there is more than what you can see, hear, touch, taste or smell?

I’ll admit to all of the above and then some.

Intuition, sixth sense, call it what you will, I believe there are some who are blessed with abilities we can’t understand.  I also believe each of us has some ability to tap into that area of the unknown, especially when needed.

I’ll often get the feeling someone’s there and the feeling usually starts with chills.  I’ll look behind me thinking it’s Hubby or the cat but nope, no one’s there, that I can see.

Just the feeling there’s someone there.

I still remember the time I woke up screaming because someone grabbed my shoulder and shook it until I was awake.  It was definitely a hand and I felt it even after I was awake.  My banshee scream had Hubby up and ready for battle but there was no one to fight.  In case you’re thinking it was just Hubby reaching out in his sleep, he was facing away from me and I was curled up facing his back.

That scared the shit out of him, and definitely me, but he told me I was probably dreaming.  He was able to go right back to sleep but I lay there wondering who it was that was trying to get my attention and why.  I even got out of bed to check on our eldest son who was a baby at that time.  This incident happened when we were living in the old farm house where Hubby was raised.

I used to hear someone call my name.  The kids would be napping, no television or radio on, just me and my book and I’d hear her call me by name.  Now, at that time in the late 1970’s, there was a local well-known psychic who had a weekly radio show.  Looking back, it was funny how I never had any trouble getting through to him each and every time I call in to the radio station.  I also remember how he’d be spot on in what he told me.

When I asked him about the lady I’d hear calling my name he told me I already knew who it was, just answer her and ask her what she wants.  He was correct.  I knew it was my Grandmother but my mind said that couldn’t be possible, she had been dead for years.  By the time I was ready to answer her she stopped calling out to me.

I knew the day my Dad was going to die because I “saw” something that morning.  I drove my mother nuts because I kept calling her by telephone all day asking how Dad was feeling.  Each time I called she told me Dad was having a good day and feeling much better.  Until he died that afternoon.

I was sitting beside my mother-in-law’s bed at the moment she died and saw her look up as if someone entered the room.  I felt it too, a slight movement of air and also looked up to see who it was.  There was no one there.  She was the only one who could see whoever it was that came to show her the way home.  My brother-in-law shared that experience with me.

What I’m about to share now is the absolute truth.  It happened, I don’t understand how or why, because it was just that one time but it did happen.

I was 16 at the time.  My sister Andrea, who was 13, was living in New Jersey with Mom’s sister and her family.  It was early evening and we were gathered in the living room watching a show on the television which was on a stand in the corner next to a window.  Something drew my attention towards the window and I saw my sister Andrea’s face and she was crying.

I immediately knew something was wrong.

A few minutes later the telephone rang and it was Mom’s sister calling to let Mom and Dad know that Andrea had run away and that the Police had been contacted and were searching for her.

That was the beginning of a very strange night full of worry, fear and confusion.

Throughout the evening and early morning hours I saw things like tree lined streets, houses, lamp lit streets with businesses closed for the night.  I saw the rain soaked sidewalks and felt the moist, chill air.  I heard the sounds of passing vehicles.  I felt so afraid and had no understanding of what was happening.

At one point in the early morning hours I had to use the bathroom.  As I pushed open the door to enter the darkened room I was overcome by such a sense of fear.  I heard music playing; tinny, old-fashioned music, the sound of people talking and laughing, I smelled the odor of cigarette smoke and alcohol, heard the clinking of glasses.  I could not bring myself to go into the bathroom so I backed out into the kitchen and slowly closed the door.  I saw a building with colored lights in the windows and a sign with the word “Tin” flashing.

Mom was talking to Aunt Dell at that time and I knew I finally had to tell her what had been happening, everything I was seeing and hearing, even though I doubted she’d believe me.  I had no idea what was going on but I felt a sense of urgency so I told her everything and she in turn told Aunt Dell.

I’m not sure how much later it was, but Aunt Dell called again, this time to tell Mom Andrea had been found.

She was outside a Bar and Grill called the Tin Lizzy, huddled up against the building, wanting to get out of the chilly rain but afraid to enter.   I knew then that I was feeling what she was feeling when I had tried to go into our bathroom.

My sister and I somehow connected with each other in a way that, to this day, I still don’t understand.  I don’t know if she reached out to me or I to her but I was there with her, sharing what she was going through, seeing and hearing what she did, feeling what she felt.  Certainly, through the years, there were times when I had the feeling something was wrong and I’d reach out to her or go see her, but nothing like that particular time.

I really wish it had happened again because I’ve always wondered why I didn’t have a clue as to what was happening to her the night she collapsed three years ago.  I finally came to believe the answer was so simple.  It wasn’t meant to happen again; that was a journey she had to take alone.

As I’m writing this I also realize she did reach out one last time; not to let us know she was in trouble but to let us know she was alright.

We were all with her when she was removed from life support but sister #4 knew she wouldn’t go anywhere without her make-up and teeth.  Sister #2’s daughter put her teeth in and sister #4’s daughter fixed her eyebrows and applied her lipstick.  If you knew Andrea you would understand.  Her hair was always perfectly styled and her make-up just a sperfect so it makes sense she wouldn’t go anywhere without looking her best.

Not even to go to Heaven.

Just as my niece finished applying Andrea’s lipstick I saw a “shimmer” rise up from my sister and suddenly she looked like she was 30 years old and so beautiful and peaceful.  I believe what I saw was my sister’s soul leave her body as she took her last breath.  This time I wasn’t the only one to see something.  Sister #4 and her daughter also saw this and were taken by surprise not knowing what was happening.  “What’s that, what’s happening” Sister #4 kept repeating.  “Can you see that” she asked the others.

“I saw it” I told her.  No one else saw anything.  We were the lucky ones.

In that moment I knew what had happened.  Andrea had reached out to us one last time and showed us something beautiful, something to remember and hold close, showing us that death isn’t the end but the beginning.

I write things down, stuff I won’t or can’t say to someone, ideas, feelings, things that happen in my world.  I don’t share everything.  It’s never been easy for me to open up to others, even my own family.  I’ve found the courage to share with you now a few special moments I’ve experienced, memories I’ll never forget.

I will also share my belief that there is more to life than what you can see, hear touch, smell or taste.  You just have to be able to accept it when it happens.

And believe.

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner with out the express written permission of the owner…..me.

 

Dad’s Geese

I enjoy browsing Pinterest because, in my humble opinion, there are so many interesting things to see.  Recipes, inspirational quotes, crafts, you name it and you can probably find it there.

One day I was checking things out and came across this picture.  It reminded me of a story I wrote several years ago about some geese my father had.  Two vile, mean, nasty creatures that Dad thought were wonderful.

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* This is what I imagine those damn birds looked like doing their happy dance after a successful surprise attack.

So here’s my tale of two geese:

One thing I remember from my childhood was that Dad always had animals of one kind or another around the house.  The only inside pets we had were a parakeet that hung itself by picking at a loose string from a nearby curtain and a monkey that we kids thought we killed.      Who Killed Dad’s Monkey?  told that story.

Dad decided he was going to get into the fur coat business so he was going to raise mink.  They were also mean, nasty creatures, but at least they were kept in cages underneath a very large hickory nut-tree in the field above the house.

We quickly learned to keep our fingers away from the cages when feeding and watering those animals.

The side yard was not flat, you had to walk up a slight hill, but to us kids it seemed like a large hill when carrying buckets of water.  That was the way we had to go to get to the mink.  This story, however, is not about the mink.  It’s about Dad’s other mean, nasty creatures that ran free around the house and surrounding field.

Two white geese.

Those birds considered that side yard their personal territory and it was cross that yard at your peril.  Between trying to avoid what seemed like huge amounts of goose poop that littered that side of the yard or the temperamental geese themselves, it was not easy navigating that part of the yard.   To make matters worse, Dad had planted a couple of goose berry bushes half way up that part of the yard and I’m sure those bushes  contributed to the birds’ rotten attitudes.

Whenever we complained to Dad about the birds, his attitude was basically “suck it up, you’re bigger than the birds”. I’m pretty sure he found a great deal of humor in our attempts at avoiding his geese.

As much as I hated helping with butchering chickens I would have gladly butchered, gutted and cleaned those geese myself.  Unfortunately, for some strange reason, Dad liked those birds from hell so butchering was out of the question.

On this particular day it was my turn to feed and water the mink.

Container of food in one hand and bucket of water in the other, I checked the yard for the birds and saw luck was with me.  The geese were no where in sight; they were somewhere else on the roughly three acres of field that surrounded the house.  I made it up to the mink, got them fed and watered with all fingers in tact, and was on my way back down to the house when I heard the honk of an angry bird.

Picking up my pace while looking over my shoulder, I saw two white heads bobbing up and down through the weeds and hay growing in the field as they came at me from above.

Luck wasn’t with me on the way down because I slipped on a patch of goose poop and went down hard on my rear end. I slid a bit further through more patches of goose poop smearing the stuff all over the back of my shorts.

Yeah, we had our own goose poop slip and slide compliments of those two damn geese.  Who knew two birds could poop so much.

By this time both birds were coming at me, necks stretched out, wings spread wide and honking like crazy as they charged at me.  Scrambling to make it to my feet, I slipped again and now I had goose poop on my hands and knees too.

I managed to get to my feet, still holding the empty water bucket and feed container, but I made the mistake of turning my back to those darn birds.

I forgot how fast they were and how long their necks were.  One of them got me on my butt, hard, and if you’ve never been bitten by a goose I can assure you it hurts like hell.  Swinging the empty bucket behind me at the birds, I braced myself for another attack while trying to avoid slipping on any more goose poop.

The full two bird attack never came.

Taking a chance, I glanced over my shoulder and was surprised to see they were just standing there looking at me.

Now I don’t know if geese can smell or taste but the only thing I could figure that stopped them from coming at me again was because my backside was covered in goose poop.  When the damn bird bit me it either caught a whiff or got a beak full of goose poop and didn’t like the taste or smell.

I had to change my clothes outside because of all the goose poop on me and then I had to rinse my clothes in a bucket of water.  Those two birds got a bath that day too when I emptied the bucket by throwing it at them.

They liked that about as much as I liked them.  I was hoping I could drown them but it didn’t work.

Dad eventually got rid of the geese by trading them for some pigeons and it’s a good thing he did.

In a prior story I told about how we killed Dad’s monkey, accidentally of course, but the geese would have been a different story.

The monkey’s demise truly was an accident but those geese would have died by murder most fowl.

*Picture found on Pinterest.

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner….me.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

I’ve been going through cupboards and drawers sorting and getting rid of stuff much to my husband’s ire.

While going through my recipe box and cookbooks I came across an Irish cookbook my Uncle Pete had sent to me so many years ago.

Flipping through the pages while checking out recipes I came across the letter Uncle Pete sent with the book. I have most of the letters Uncle Pete wrote me stored in a box in the attic but I was surprised to find this letter in the book.

It brought back so many memories of the years of letters we shared and the love that grew between a child and her beloved Uncle who lived thousands of miles away.

I was also reminded of a St. Patrick’s Day parade a few years ago and how the music and dancers sparked forgotten memories which in turn inspired a story about my Uncle Pete.

If you remember reading this before I hope that reading again will remind you of a special someone who touched your life with love. If you’re reading this for the first time I hope you enjoy my tale and that it will spark memories of someone special for you.

                   I Never Made It Home (previously published about 3 years ago)

Uncle Pete was my grandmother’s brother who lived in Ireland. Ballymote, Tuam in County Galway to be exact. I happened to visit my grandmother one day and she was writing a letter to her brother giving him information for her upcoming visit home. She told me he was family and that I should write to him handing me paper and pen

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My Grandmother when she returned home to Ireland for a visit and Uncle Pete

That was to be the start of years of communicating with a man I came to love even though I was only able to meet him once. I was about 9 years old when I wrote my first letter to Uncle Pete and I still remember the rush of pleasure I felt when I received my first letter from him. He was used to children, you see, because he and his wife, Aunt Delia, had 22 children. I know now that a family that large is very unusual but as a child the only thing I wondered about was how he could remember all his children’s names.

Our relationship continued to grow even after my grandmother passed away when I was 12. Loosing her broke my heart but I had Uncle Pete and he helped me deal with her loss. In my letters to him I shared my grief, my childhood dreams and worries, my teenage uncertainties and he would always offer words of comfort or advice as needed and always with love.

When I was older, each year when it came time for the Irish Sweepstakes, Uncle Pete would send me the tickets he had bought for me, always saying that if I won I had to come home for a visit.

The years passed, I married, had children and shared the joy of watching my babies grow into little boys with Uncle Pete. Sometimes I would ask his advice about something troubling me and he had a way of seeing to the heart of the matter. In our letters we continued to share our lives, the ups and downs, the happy times and the times of sadness. He told me of his loneliness after Aunt Delia passed away and would often mention how he looked forward to the time I would be able to come home for a visit.

I was finally able to meet Uncle Pete for the first time when he came to America to visit his son and daughter-in-law who lived in Connecticut. After years of corresponding I can’t begin to describe what it was like to finally meet this man who had become so important to me.

Uncle Pete returned home to Ireland and we continued writing. I don’t think he was too impressed with his visit to America because in one of his letters he mentioned how in Ireland a man could stop in for a pint and a visit whenever he wanted with no grief from the woman, unlike American women, and letting me know he was laughing about that.

Life has a way of keeping you busy so that you don’t realize how quickly time passes. We continued to write to each other and every so often Uncle Pete would tell me I had to come home for a visit; until the day the letter came telling me Uncle Pete had died.

Uncle Pete’s letters are stored safely away in a box in the attic and certainly I could still visit family in Ireland now but it just wouldn’t be the same for me.

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** This reminded me of the home in my grandmother’s picture.

I may have never made it home to visit but I was there in his heart as he is still in mine. I’ll have to try to remember that. It’s said that home is where the heart is, and if so, then I often went home for a visit with Uncle Pete.

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Feeling nostalgic, I baked a loaf of Irish Soda Bread using the recipe Uncle Pete’s daughter-in-law shared with me during our visit all those years ago.

A hot cup of tea, a slice of that bread with Irish butter and in my heart I imagine it’s a wee taste of home with Uncle Pete.

 

 

The bowl you see in this picture is a larger Waterford Crystal bowl which I bought in 2001.  The real deal direct from Ireland and, I’ll admit, a bit pricey.

Of course when I unpacked the bowl Hubby asked how much it cost so I told him.

“You paid how much for that eff’in bowl” he asked me, rather loudly, a couple of times.  I won’t use the word he did but I’m sure you know what it was.

I calmly confirmed the price and watched his face as shock and a great deal of ire slowly gave way to acceptance.

You see, there wasn’t really much he could say about what I’d spent for the bowl because, as I saw it, the bowl was a gift from my Dad’s brother, Uncle John.   When Uncle John died November, 2000, I was shocked to learn he that he had left me a bequest which allowed me to buy my Waterford Crystal bowl.

Hubby never said a word about returning my bowl and 17 years later the bowl still retains its place of honor on our dining room table.

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My husband still refers to it as the “fookin bowl”.

I think of it as a little piece of Ireland and a reminder of two special Uncles who hold a place at home in my heart.

 

** Picture found on Pinterest

 

All rights reserved. I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner…me.

Lessons From Dad

Dad was one of 13 children.  I know they didn’t have much in the way of material things and I’m not sure how much affection was shown while Dad and his brothers and sisters were growing up.  I would guess, based on things I remember about Dad while I was growing up, that there weren’t a lot of hugs and kisses.

I think my grandparents probably had to work so hard just to survive that there was only time and energy for the bare basics. What was yours was yours as long as you could hold on to it.  I’m no psychologist but I know those growing years and the events that happened helped shape Dad’s character and personality.  Looking back now as an adult and remembering bits of conversation between Dad and his siblings I can understand how he came to be who he was.

I remember one time when Dad and a couple of his brothers were target practicing using shotguns and he decided I was old enough to learn to shoot.  He handed me a 12 gauge, showed me how to load it, told me to tuck it in tight to my shoulder and aim; if I didn’t it would kick and knock me on my rear.  I didn’t tuck it in and down I went on my rear just like Dad said.  I think he knew that was going to happen and that they would all laugh, including Dad.  I didn’t like being laughed at and I didn’t want to do it anymore, but Dad told me to get up and try again.  He had me keep at it until I could handle that shotgun and hit the target with accuracy.  I learned not to give up.

Bills were always paid first, a little set aside for savings, and groceries bought with what was left.  Dad called the bit of savings his “tuck”.  If you wanted something and couldn’t afford it, you saved for it or went without until you could pay for it.  More often than not it was go without.  As far as Dad’s “tuck” went, that was generally his to use for what he wanted, be it a new gun or coon dog.  While we lived in the city, Mom would sometimes work outside the home at part-time jobs for extra money.  Once we moved to the country, however, having only one car meant Mom worked in the home exclusively so she had to work within Dad’s budget and manage with whatever money he gave her.

I applied for my first job the day I turned 16, was hired and started work that weekend.  I worked 5:00 am to 2:30 pm every weekend, on holidays and summer vacations.  If needed, I worked double shifts.  I also paid room and board.  I did not mind one bit.  I was becoming an adult and learning to provide for myself, and the money went to Mom. I learned that nothing is free.  If you want something you work for it.

Whining didn’t get you out of doing something you didn’t like.  There were lots of things my sisters and I hated doing like picking rocks to clear an overgrown yard so grass seed could be planted.  It didn’t matter to Dad.  If he said pick rocks we picked rocks or whatever else needed to be done until it was finished.  You don’t give up or do it half-assed (Dad’s words). There was no such thing as “I can’t” or “I don’t want to”.  You did what needed to be done and you did it the best you could.

There was one exception that I can remember.  Dad would butcher chickens and we kids had to help clean them.  He’d butcher the birds outside but the worse part was the cleaning of the birds was done at the kitchen table.  A large pot of water was brought to boil on the kitchen stove.  Dad would dip the birds in the boiling water and then we plucked the feathers.  Dad would then burn the pin feathers off over the flame of the kitchen stove.  The stench of burnt feathers and chicken entrails is not pleasant and the odor would linger for a while in the kitchen after we were done.  At some point I decided I wasn’t going to do this again. Dad told me “If you don’t help with this you don’t get to eat chicken”.  That was fine with me.  “I won’t eat chicken” I told him and after that I didn’t help with cleaning chickens again. Dad’s rule about not eating if you didn’t help held and I was alright with that.  I learned about choices and consequences.

Sometimes Dad would take us with him when he’d run his coon hound at night.  We always looked forward to going with him even though he’d stay out for hours at a time.  That is probably why we were only able to go with him on weekends.  Often one or more of his brothers would join us.  One night in particular stands still stands out in my memory so many years later.

We were at another Uncle’s farm; Dad, Uncle Nick, myself and another sister but I don’t remember which one. We were all together in an open field surrounded by woods on both sides and there was enough moonlight that we could see the valley below us as the mists started slowing forming.

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It was late Summer/early Autumn and in my mind I can still see that night sky.  It was so clear and the stars so bright you felt you could reach up and touch them.  The night air was a mix of warm and cool breezes and carried the sound of Dad’s dog baying in the distance.  I can remember the chirping sound of peepers all around us, and the earthy scent of the surrounding woods and the fresh-cut hay from the field we were in.

I remember how we sat together on the ground in that field just being there in the moment.  Dad and Uncle Nick were talking, sometimes in Russian, and it felt so comforting to be there with them.  I wish I had the right words so anyone reading this would be able to feel that moment the way we did and I still do.  I remember laying down on the ground, looking up at the night sky and eventually falling asleep to the sound of Dad’s and Uncle Nick’s low voices.

I learned that it’s the simple moments in life that make the best memories.

 

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner…me.

SBD In The ER

 

I have permission from the young man in question to use his name for this story but I think I’ll keep him anonymous, at least for now.

It was a very rainy, windy, chilly Sunday and Hubby, who hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of days, decided he needed to visit the Emergency Department at our local hospital because his symptoms weren’t getting any better.   So off we go and I’m fully expecting to be spending several hours waiting.  Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case and we were taken in to an examination room almost immediately.

A certain 15 year-old young man we know volunteers in the ER Department at this hospital and he happened to be volunteering this particular Sunday.   I saw him before he saw us and watched the smile brighten his face when we walked in and then leave his face when he realized we were there for a reason.  He followed us into the exam room and Hubby  assured the staff it was alright.  He watched as Hubby was put through the process of evaluation, EKG, blood draws, needles inserted, concern about Hubby evident.  I assured him it would be fine.

I asked him about his day and he said it had been kind of boring but he shared a few things that he had done, rather pleased that he now knew his way around and specifically where the lab was so he could take samples there as needed.  He then left us to take Hubby’s blood samples to said lab.

When he returned to the ER Department he came back to Hubby’s room.  I asked him more questions about his volunteer duties and he was happy to tell us all about his responsibilities.   Some of  his other duties included changing bedding and wiping the beds down then replacing linens, including pillow cases, giving us a demonstration of his abilities as he explained.

Putting a pillow in a pillow case is simple right?  Well not if the pillow has a tendency to stick so I showed him how I was taught when I went to Learn Practically Nothing School many years ago.  He liked what I showed him saying it was much easier than his method.  Hubby called it the hand sock method.

Food is something that is always a topic of interest to a teenage male so of course he had to tell us what he had for lunch.  That day it was meatloaf from the hospital cafeteria.  We had it on good authority that the meatloaf was really good but not the gravy.

He was standing there, happily chatting away  when suddenly Hubby asked what that awful smell was.  Our young visitor started laughing and that was the only clue we needed.

“You didn’t, did you” Hubby asked him and our young visitor just laughed harder as he started moving towards the door to exit the room.

“No, don’t move, hold still, don’t move” Hubby told him but he kept moving towards the door which meant the invisible, noxious, anal odor followed in a trail behind him, permeating further into the room.  IT WAS BAD.  I think that walk to the lab stirred something up.

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“I hope that meatloaf tasted better than it smells” I said which only kept  him laughing harder.

“I can’t believe you dropped a SBD” I told him and  by the look on his face I knew he had no idea  what I meant.

“Silent but deadly” I explained and by this time we are all laughing.  I will admit it took my mind off the reason for our visit to the ER and  helped eased the tension I was feeling.  I wouldn’t recommend this as a regular means of easing tensions in the ER though.

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At this point his….a nurse entered Hubby’s room from the door on the other side of the  room, coming in behind our young Volunteer and walking right smack dab into the odor.

“Oh (name omitted) no, you didn’t” she says and also immediately starts laughing.  I actually think she recognized the scent as soon as it hit her in the face.  I mean,  I saw her wave her hand in front of her face as she backed out of the room the way she entered, obviously not wanting to stir the air any further and spread the toxic waste out into the hallway.  It would have decimated everyone at the Nurses’ Station and we needed them to help Hubby.

She returned in a flash with a can of scented air spray, finger on the nozzle as she re-entered the room, waiving the can all around and quickly clearing the room of all foul lingering emissions.   All of us were able to breathe easier.    It worked and luckily before anyone else entered the room saving them from the remains of hospital cafeteria meatloaf.  She was a hero and no one at the Nurses’ Station would ever know it.

“Stay away from that meatloaf” I told our young Volunteer as he and his…..the nurse left us, still laughing I might add.

“That was definitely a (family name) ass” I told Hubby.  “Yeah” he answered, wiping tears from his eyes.

I’m not sure if they were tears of grandfatherly pride or his eyes were still stinging from the fumes.

Hubby recovered from that episode, suffering no long-lasting effects from his exposure to recycled hospital cafeteria meatloaf.   Hubby’s other issue was dealt with and he was able to return home for recovery.

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I believe someone should warn the hospital staff about that meatloaf so they’re aware  how potentially dangerous it can be to their noses.

I decided to protect the identity of the young man in this story and I did a fine job of it if I do say so myself.  This is social media after all and everyone reads everything here.  And I believe his school is safe as long as meatloaf isn’t on the menu.

 

 

 

 

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner….me.

 

 

 

Trick Or Treat

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I have always enjoyed seeing the kids dressed up in their costumes at Halloween.

Store bought or home-made, it makes no difference to me what costume they’re wearing.  I enjoy seeing the kids dressed up as vampires, ghouls, witches, or whatever their imaginations make them.

Unfortunately last year only two Trick or Treaters visited our home.   A Storm Trooper  and a Soul Sucker; at least that’s what he said he was when he turned to his Grandfather and told him not to worry, he wouldn’t suck his soul.  He was dressed all in black with a very spooky green face.

I remember one year a 1950’s teenage girl visited or so I thought.  When I answered the knock on our door I saw a tall, blonde haired girl wearing the tight sweater, neck scarf, poodle skirt, ankle socks and saddle shoes of a 1950’s teenager.   Next to her was a little Witch.  I sensed her reluctance and wasn’t sure why.  When she came into the porch I could see the effort taken with her makeup.

Blonde wig, bright cherry red lipstick, foundation, rouge and even false eyelashes all true 1950’s style.  It was when I noticed that one of her, uh, headlights was on high beam and the other on low beam and the very masculine hairy legs I realized my 1950’s visitor was a 15 or 16-year-old male.  He had done such a great job with his costume and makeup that I couldn’t help but laugh

“Trick or Treat” he said, his hesitation evident as he slowly held out his bag.  Grinning, I happily dropped several candy bars into his bag.

“I love your costume and your makeup is really good” I told him.

“My Mom helped me” he said, relaxing a bit.

“Are you alone” I asked him.

“I’m with my little sister” he told me pointing to the little Witch waiting on the step behind him.

“Well I really like your costume, I actually thought you were a girl”.  I was trying to think of a way to let him know part of his costume needed a bit of a lift.  Finally, I just pointed at the low side and lifted my cupped hands up and down.  He looked, saw the droop and laughed with me as he made the necessary adjustment.

The sad part was that he thanked me for being so nice.  Evidently a lot of the folks he visited that night with his little sister thought it necessary to take him to task for being too old to be Trick or Treating.  I told him not to worry about it.  Those people were the ones too old to appreciate the spirit of the holiday.   Unfortunately, I also remember having that same conversation with other teenagers in costume and trick or treating on Halloweens through the years after that.

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When I was a kid during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and we still lived in the city, our costumes came with those plastic masks that often made seeing and  breathing difficult.   You’d see a lot of kids move their masks up to rest on their heads between houses.  If it was a cool evening the warmth of your breath made moisture collect inside your mask but who cared, it was Halloween.

Accompanied by Mom, we would carry pillow cases as we went from home to home collecting our treats and goodies.  It was always fun having people try to guess who you were.  At that time, the neighborhoods were full of people who knew each other.

The streets were busy with kids of all ages going house to house, the air full of young voices calling out “trick or treat”.  I can still remember hearing the crunch of fallen leaves on the sidewalks as we kids rushed to get to the next house, yelling out each other about who had the most goodies.  We would readily accept home-made treats because we knew the person offering the treat.  Looking back I realize it really was a time of innocence when kids were allowed to be kids.  If I close my eyes I can still see the tree-lined streets and all the homes with porch lights on letting kids know they were welcome.

When my sisters and I returned home after all our trick or treating we’d plop down to sit on the kitchen or living room floor and dump our goodies into a pile in front of us.  We’d busily sort through our candy making different piles of all the candy we had received.  Sometimes we’d make deals with each other to trade candy we didn’t really like for something else.  You know, five pieces of this for two of those.  Mom would check through our stuff and then we’d be allowed to eat a piece or two candy before going to bed.

Sleep didn’t come immediately because we’d be busy whispering to each other about the fun we had and how long our stash of candy would last.  Sometimes someone would help themselves to some candy that wasn’t theirs and that would lead to…lets just say “disagreements”.

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When I saw this picture online I was reminded of those silly childhood ditties we used to say.  “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat”.  I think we would actually sometimes say that and then be reminded by Mom it was “trick or treat” or home.  We quickly remembered our manners.

My husband and I moved our family to the small town where we currently live October, 1981.  My husband would take our boys out every Halloween, walking with them up and down our road, and the main road through Town.  Porch lights would be lit on almost every home as neighbors passed out treats to the kids, and there were a lot of kids at that time.  I stayed home to pass out candy and I loved checking out each and every costumed visitor.

It was probably two or three Halloweens before I found out why my husband never minded walking the boys through Town.  Evidently there were some homes where the kids received candy and the Dads were offered liquid libation to “take off the chill” of the night.  Everyone enjoyed Halloween.

I shouldn’t admit this but my favorite part of the evening was when the older boys (always nameless) would burn the dummy and start the bonfire on the corner of our road and the main road in Town.  The first year I witnessed the bonfire I was shocked that they’d do something like that.  My husband, having grown up in the area, just laughed and told me not to worry, just watch.   He was right, it wasn’t delinquents causing trouble it was just neighbor kids up to a little mischief.

It was always after trick or treating was done for the evening and I quickly realized the boys were always careful about what they used for their bonfire.  I would watch out my windows or from our front porch, waiting to see when they would start this yearly tradition.

One year an old picnic table disappeared from our back yard and became part of the pile.  We never heard or saw anything when they took it but realized it was used when we saw the bonfire.  Those Halloween bonfires always reminded me of stories of ancient times when people celebrated Samhain with bonfires.

The Fire Department was always ready for the bonfire; probably because some of the members participated in this Halloween event when they were younger.  The Department would let the bonfire burn for a bit and them come put the fire out.  It was expected every year and as our boys became older and could Trick or Treat on their own I’m sure they too became part of that Halloween tradition.

I also always enjoyed driving to work the next day and seeing the trees and bushes covered in toilet paper, sometimes so heavy the trees looked snow-covered.

Times and people change.  There are no more toilet papered covered trees and it has been many, many years since there was a Halloween bonfire.  Unfortunately, in this day and age that’s probably a good thing.

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Sadly, last year I turned our porch light off about 7:00 pm as no more Zombies, Princesses, Ghouls or other creatures stopped by for a visit, no voices calling “trick or treat”.  I don’t know where they’ve gone but I miss them.

My porch light will again be on this Halloween…..just in case.

Have fun, be safe, and watch out for things that go bump in the night.  You never know who or what you might meet on this special night.

 

 

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content without the express written permission of the owner….me.

Look Ma, No Hands

Grandchildren are delightful creatures.  No matter how miserable your day is going, when they show up at your door or call you on the telephone the day has just gotten better.  Now that my grandkids are getting older and very electronic savvy instant messaging counts too; Grandma just has to be able to keep up with them.

They see the world through young, unbiased eyes and share that delight with you.

The other day my youngest 3-year-old grandson was spending the day with me and we were watching “his show” which is the BabyTV channel.    I make it a point to talk to him about what he is watching be it numbers, colors, nature segments, shapes, etc.   Grandma Monkey came on and was teaching her Grandson Monkey about other monkeys that happened to have tails.

“Do you have a tail” I asked GR#7.   “Nope” he answers, “I have a pee pee, do you have a pee pee Grandma”?   How can you not smile?

My grandkids are getting older and in November #4 will join the ranks of teenager.  They don’t do or say the wonderful, funny and sometimes inappropriate things they used to when they were younger.  They also don’t always share everything with me as they did when they were younger and I miss that.

Like the time one of my grandsons told me that he discovered when he blew on their dog’s butt she would lick it.

“Why did you have your face at the dog’s butt” I asked him.

“She had hair hanging from there” he told me.

When I was able to stop laughing I suggested that perhaps he should think of a better way to remove hair from that area of the dog.  Later, I thought about our conversation.  I could see where that would sound reasonable to a 10-year-old.  I can remember blowing hair out of my eyes.  Truth be told he probably just didn’t want to put his hand near the dog’s butt.  Face is ok but not the hand.  I understand.

I remembered the time I was walking our Boxer for bathroom reasons.  He squatted to do his duty and then I noticed something hanging from his butt.  It was one of my knee-high stockings that he obviously thought would make a great snack.

He kept turning around in a circle trying to dislodge the stocking but he couldn’t shake it free.  It took me a moment to figure out how to help him since there was no way I was using my hands.  I told him to sit, I put my foot on the stocking and then turned him loose.  Problem solved without using hands or blowing on his butt.

This same grandson likes to watch television with the closed caption on.  When I asked him why his answer was simple.  “The book’s always better than the movie”.

Grandchildren are good for the soul.

 

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner….me.