As we sat at the table looking over the menu, Sarah handed the smaller version of the day’s offerings to Asher. He held it up in front of his face perusing the choices as if he knew exactly what his would be. Then an older couple moved over to the table across from us and he turned and said, “Hi!” The gentlemen took his hand and responded in kind, as Asher flashed those beautiful long eyelashes accompanied by a smile. What a hoot! During lunch he played with a miniature Batman, Darth Vader, and some other red clothed guy while he jabbered and ate. That’s how we communicate. He talks and I pretend I understand completely. After lunch, as we headed for the car, he waved and said “Bye” to the restaurant.

So, that was two times that I heard him say the appropriate word, at the appropriate time. Hi, and bye. What a rush!  Probably all grandparents feel this way. Early on his parents taught him a bit of sign language. The first time I saw the spark of understanding was when he had finished eating, and let me know it by waving his hands over the tray to the high chair. Shortly after, while we were shopping he patiently allowed me to push him in the stroller while Sarah and I contemplated floral selections for a Christmas swag. Finally he had enough, and waved his hands over his lap to let me know he was done. And that too, was a rush.

When I was a kid, longing for something in the not too distant future, my mother would tell me not to wish my life away. I often remember that thought, and then remind myself to savor the moment. But at the same time, I long for the day when I can talk with my grandson. There are so many things I want to tell him about. Like pollywogs and how they become frogs, and all about the cool things that live under fallen timber. And how important it is to walk carefully around the wildflowers. I want to tell him about snowflakes and raindrops. And how everyone is special, including him.

Sarah will probably say, “Soon, Grasshopper.” And she’s right. I know that because as I buckled him into his car seat, put his lovey (gauze blanket) on his lap, and moved toward his mouth with the pacifier (gear for travel and sleeping mode) he put his hand up and said “Nooooo!” Usually he just turns his head away when offered something he does not want. I looked at his mom, but she didn’t share my shock and awe – just a big smile. So then I did what any self-respecting grandmother would do. I tried it two more times and the response was the same…”Nooooo!” I did the happy dance right there in the parking lot.

Yesterday my grandson told me “No”. Maybe some day I won’t like that so much, but for now it’s a happy little song that I loved to hear.

The weather has been quite nice the last few days. I haven’t worn more than a sweater or jacket back and forth to work. In fact, although it’s supposed to rain all week, the temperature should hit the mid sixties tomorrow. The last of the deep snow banks on the side of the driveway has melted. The yard is muddy and flat, not quite aware of what is happening all around. This evening I noticed that the daffodils are a good six inches out of the ground with nice round tops and that familiar bulge that holds spring deep inside. Even the dog has made her ever so irritating move to springdom, as it now takes an additional ten minutes for her to remember why she wanted to go outside…nose in the air and tail to the wind.

Signs of spring are all around. Even at work. Yesterday morning I felt that familiar crunch under my shoes as I walked into the break room. The kind that makes you stop and look down to the ceramic tiles and then lift up your shoe. And there they were. First just a few, but by the end of the day they had multiplied into a pretty good sized dark colored mass of activity around the doorway and along the wall. The ants are up and on their way.

Our break room is pretty clean, but there are always fresh crumbs of one sort or another. Most recently the leavins of girl scout cookies, which I’m sure they find as inviting as we do. We struggle with the ants, as well as the cookies, every year about this time. Last year our maintenance department sent over a wonderful little can of spray. An environmentally friendly repellent of sorts. It smells like peppermint to me, but the ants sure don’t like it. Neither does our custodian.

He comes in the afternoon and works into the evening when most of us have gone home. That’s why I’m relatively sure I’m the only one who has witnessed what I am about to share. It’s a ritual I’ve been privy to since last year this time. It kind of puts in mind of the Bill Murray grounds keeper character in Caddy Shack, shoving a hose in the gopher hole. And I laugh every time I think of it.

So. Last night as I headed past the break room for the door, and the car, and home, I ran smack into our custodian. He was standing outside the break room door with a cup in his hand. “They’re back”, he said, and we both looked down. The floor was covered with water spread evenly across the ceramic tiles, deeper in the grouted areas, spilling on over to the carpet. “I’m drowning them”, he said. A measly little “I understand” was all that I could muster. I’ve been here before.

I tried to convince him last year, that the spray might be the way to go. This morning our little visitors had doubled in size, and were walking around the plastic ant traps that he so carefully placed in the corners of the room. I’m not sure if they drown in their sorrows this afternoon, or not. I tend to think they headed back where they came from, until the way is safe once again. Tomorrow morning I’ll look for the wonderful peppermint spray, and chalk this up to another rite of spring.

The ants came marching two by two, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants came marching two by two
The little one stopped to tie his shoe.
They all go marching down, to the earth, to get out of the rain.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom…

Grandma! Again!

March 2, 2010

That’s right! There’s another on the way!

I’ve been given the green light to share my sunshine…

Nestled safely inside that warm and comfy space is a wonderful little baby. An ultrasound today confirms that our grandberry is ten weeks old, with a nice steady heartbeat. Sarah, Mark, and Asher will welcome an addition to their family, our family, sometime around September 28th.

Sarah is doing great with this news. Laid back and patient. Grandma, on the other hand, is thinking about onesies, the Carter’s coupons I got in the mail last week, and trying to remember how it is to have a two year old and an infant. Breathe deep, grandma. Sarah’s got the right idea. All in due time. No pun intended.

Birthday Thoughts

February 28, 2010

My mom would have celebrated her 92nd birthday today. Her name was Viola, a name my daughter shares. Her friends called her Vi. My cousins called her Aunt Vi-lola. My kids called her Gram. Actually, my son first called her mom. Most likely because that’s what he heard me say.

She was widowed at 56, 57 when I married, and just shy of her 76th birthday when she died. I reflect on these numbers now because in my mid-fifties, I often find myself thinking about our similarities and differences. Being a grandmother has given me yet another comparison to draw from, being just a few years younger than when her first grandchild came along.

Except for brief periods of my life, we kept in close contact. When I was in college, we communicated on an “as needed” basis, admittedly more to meet my needs, than hers. After my father’s passing I moved back home. I wish she would have made me stay in school, but she didn’t. Within a year, I set up a household of my own. We loved each other, but didn’t like each other so much when we lived under the same roof. After a brief cooling off period, we spoke to each other almost daily.

It was a small amount of time set aside from a busy day to say good morning, what’s on your plate for the day, and I love you. It’s interesting to think about how communication has changed over the years. In the mid-seventies, the phone was our only option, limited by the length of the coiled cord, and the calling area. Remember long distance? There were no cell phones, but phone booths aplenty, if you had a quarter.  No e-mail, Twitter, Chat, or Facebook to read. For a young mother, there were no mommy-blogs, parenting networks, or Google. It’s hard to remember life without Google. But there was always mom. And she was only a phone call away.

After my brother married and moved away, there was the two of us.  We usually spoke in the morning, and again in the evening. She was alone and there was some comfort in knowing she was up for the day or home for the night. As she grew older, it was a necessity. But for the most part, I wanted to share my life with her. Still, after all these years, when something exciting happens I get the urge to pick up the phone and call, quickly followed by the sad realization that she is not there anymore to answer. And then I miss her.

Truth be told, she depended on me – our family. We helped with the yard work and the odd jobs that needed done. I went out once a week to sweep her hair up into that french curl. Sometimes the kids and I had to set time aside to make the drive out, but it was worth it to her. And as I look back, it was worth it to us, as well. As she got older, she would talk about how hard it was to get up and down the stairs. Now I walk the same stairs daily, and I understand. Often, more often lately, I find myself thinking this house is too big to keep up, and I understand. I think of my kids, and I understand.

It really wasn’t much different a relationship than most of my friends had with their mothers, back in the day. In fact I tested this theory with my friends at work and found that to be true, even today. For some time, I carried a sense of guilt about the close relationship I had with my mom. Perhaps over the years it had been at the expense of my family. It’s baggage I’ve decided not to carry around anymore. It seems like a little thing, but there is great comfort in this resolution. Sharing the sometimes menial details of our day-to-day lives was a good thing.

Finally there is a sense of satisfaction here. It was time well spent, even if only for two people. My mom and I.

On Ice

February 21, 2010

The forecast is calling for snow and rain this evening, changing to snow and sleet, continuing through tomorrow with a total accumulation of four to eight inches. I’m one of those strange birds that loves the cold and snow, but I’m finding out this winter that I don’t do so well with ice anymore. I’ve fallen three times so far. The first time I fell to my knees on the driveway trying to get to John with his cell phone for a school call. The second was also in the driveway, on my way to the car heading off to work. We keep the driveway pretty clean, so that’s not the issue. In fact, maybe we keep it too clean. The third was Friday night on the way into a local restaurant. The last two times I ended up on my rump. I’m so grateful for ibuprofen.

It’s a little disconcerting, to say the least. I didn’t think much about it after the first one, or really, the second. But after Friday the only thing I can think of is that commercial where the little old lady says, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”! At least it doesn’t happen in the house, as well. It’s a very humbling experience. Mother Nature – 3, Gene – 0. Moreover, it’s an embarrassment. Sure hope none of my neighbors had their camera ready when I went down. I might end up on the world wide web, like this poor guy.

The sad fact is that I grew up on the ice. From the time I was old enough to don the double blade skates, my dad had me out on the ice at my grandmother’s house on Lake Dale. Before that, I slid around in boots. He would clear a big space so I could skate while he would ice fish. I would move from his space to mine with ease, and enjoyed every minute of it. We also skated on Turkey Creek, the little winding stream behind our house. Ah the memories we made there. I hung up my skates when my kids were in elementary school, but never ever had a fear of the ice. Maybe that’s really the issue. I like to think of myself as invincible. I don’t like thinking that I can’t move around with the same confidence and freedom that I’m accustomed to. Hate that.

And I don’t want to use the O.L.D. word. Not yet anyway. I’m thinking I might give these a shot. No laughing. Better to bruise my psyche rather than my posterior. Again.