Monday, March 9, 2015

I Wish

I Wish

“I wish I could talk to NuNu, to tell her what’s going on in my life.”
He said it completely out of the blue the other day.

Me too, buddy. Me too.
Tuesday would be her 96th birthday.

Then I told him how proud she would be of him, how I know she’s proud of him, wherever she is.  How she would kvell about him going to middle school next year, being in Honor Band, playing soccer and basketball, being so so kind to some friends who really needed it, and doing the STEM/Science Fair and the Best Book Club this year. How she would say OF COURSE those girls like him, and who wouldn’t?  And she’d be all over my case because he doesn’t know how to code yet, and would I get him interested in computers already, because that’s the future, you know. And she’d send me some articles she found about how they can’t fill the STEM jobs around here.

I told him how lucky he was to remember her,  and how amazing it is to have someone like a Grandma in your life, someone who thinks you are the greatest thing ever, and everyone else IS A FOOL if they don’t see it. That unconditional love without the constraints of the everyday pressure of daily life and actually raising you is something special.

And then after he went back to his book or his game, I thought about how she’d be so thrilled Audrey was trying out for a play, although she’d have to comment about why was she only a “villager” and not the lead character??  She’d love how Audrey keeps the whole darn family in check.  She would sit and play school with Audrey, babysit her pretend class of kindergarteners or babies, (but she would definitely declare loudly that she hopes she’s not ACTUALLY a teacher someday because there’s no money in that), exclaim over her lost teeth and her great reading and ask her all about 3rd grade.  She’d be so proud that she’s mostly avoided drama with friends so far, and that she’s learning to play tennis. She would love to hear how she helps Pat clean and organize things, and say “Thank God she won’t be messy like her grandmother and her mother.” She would laugh her gravelly laugh at Audrey’s funny sense of humor, her zinger sarcastic jokes, her love of dramatic play, and mostly her spunk! I’m sure she’d tell me every day how much she is “exactly like her mama was at that age,” and how it was a good thing we finally cut her bangs again, because that hair was just hanging in her face.

But the fact that I almost forgot her birthday was coming made me sad. I’ve heard about people worrying they will forget what someone’s voice sounds like, or what they smelled like, or how their hands felt or how their eyes crinkled up when they laughed.  I am so fortunate to have so many pictures and videos but I’m still forgetting things.

Almost two years later, I still can’t bring myself to clear the picture out of my camera, or off the background screen on the ipad, and she makes regular appearances in our slideshow screen savers.  It keeps her fresh in our minds, reminds us that she’s watching and would be so, so proud.

Happy 96th, NuNu. We all wish we could talk to you and tell you what’s going on in our lives. All that unsolicited advice we laughed about all those years?  We miss it. And we’ll try to do better with the pictures.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's in the eyes

Today would have been her 95th birthday.  I still miss her every day.  I have meant to write down all the things I wanted to call and tell her or email and tell her.

Last night when the kids went to bed, we talked about all the things she has missed seeing or we have missed telling her since last April, and how we hope that wherever she is, she can see them or know about them somehow.

Audrey has lost two teeth, become a fantastic reader, made new friends, is rocking second grade, learned to tap dance and jump rope and add and subtract, is about to have her first dance recital, said about 1000 funny things that would make NuNu laugh, and is really growing up into the spunky, sassy, smart girl that her great-grandmother wanted her to be!

Lance has lost about a million teeth, has become an even more voracious reader, honed his soccer and basketball skills, learned to play the clarinet, is not even remotely interested in girls yet and is slightly mortified that some are interested in him, is such a sensitive compassionate friend who really is starting to understand how other people feel, is in the Math Champs afterschool class, the Best Book Club reading competition, and is an ASB rep for his class.  He understands all kind of grown up jokes and concepts (eek), reads 10 books a week, at least, and is whizzing through 5th grade. She would really be so proud of him this year.

Looking through all our pictures of NuNu, I am really proud of myself that I managed to take so many.  But the pictures that stand out are not the posed ones where she's smiling into the camera.  It's the pictures where she's NOT looking at the camera that I love the most, because she's looking at one of the grandkids or great-grandkids.  You really see the love in her eyes, especially in the ones where the kids are looking back at her.  I know there are hundreds more photos like these, maybe some that we even threw away or deleted because it wasn't the group photo where everyone is looking.  These are some of my favorites, starting with the one of me as a baby.  It's blurry but you can still see her smile and where she's looking.

But just because I was the first grandchild, doesn't mean I was the only one who got that look.  I remember several of the cousins wrote in her 90th birthday book something like, "She always made you feel like you were the most important person in the world."
 Keeping some sort of secrets from Mommy.

 Some financial discussions about allowance

 Becky's pre-wedding chat that was definitely not G-rated!  

 First meeting Audrey
 She must have been giving ice cream past bedtime, look at how pleased with herself she is!

 I have no idea, something serious, probably financial literacy

 Becky getting some early advice

 Adoring Seba fans via Skype to Chile

Florida sunporch chats with Lance at 1.  
Right before my mom dropped him on his head on the tile kitchen floor.

Happy 95th, NuNu.  We love you and we will spend the rest of our lives trying to be the people you wanted us to be, and trying to make you proud.  And we'll keep taking pictures.
March 9, 2014

Saturday, October 19, 2013

6 months

Posts with a title like that always used to be kids' birthdays. But my grandma has been gone 6 months. 180 days ago I got the 7 am call from my mom.  Kids were out of school that Friday too. Half a year.  She has missed an entire summer and now it’s well into fall.  I still start to talk about her like she’s still alive.

So many things I have wanted to tell her.  At least once or twice a week I think of something that I would have called or emailed her about, from Audrey’s first loose tooth to compliment someone gave me at work.  One of the kids says something funny or reads a road sign while driving, a strongly worded letter is in order, or when someone has a heartbreak or disappointment and I have to reference “THEY WOULD BE A FOOL not to hire you, date you, etc.”

Mom does it too, most recently when she found a Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew under her desk. She’s been doing pretty well keeping busy, and the busy summer sailing schedule helped. But she misses her—not the worry and the stress of her health, not the numerous trips to the doctor.  Just the mama part.

I wish we had done a better family memorial.  We had the lovely singalong at the Willows, but I wish the cousins and my sister had been able to come.  Maybe we will do a reunion in April for her 95th.  I know she wouldn’t have wanted us to bother, but I just feel like we didn’t do her justice.  I have a book brewing inside somewhere, and maybe now with the job change, I will find my creative outlet to get it started.

When we turn the pages on the photo calendar, there’s NuNu. When Audrey uses her bossiest tone, there she is. When we tell stories about when Lance or Audrey were babies, she always comes up. We uncover the poncho she knitted for Audrey, the scarves and hats she made us, the jewelry and knickknacks gracing Audrey’s room, and always the gold hangers in the closet.  I use her serving dishes and cocktail forks, knowing full well she would still be appalled at my lack of entertaining.  We play in the “Lucille Sheldon Living Room that No One Will Use,” now that it has a piano and new windows, so I think she’d be proud at the upgrade.

She’s on the wallpaper on the ipad screen, talking with Lance with the finger pointed in the air.  I can’t bear to change it.  Our last videos with her are still on the camera and my blog is stuck on the post from her 93rd birthday, and I couldn't bring myself to update it until now. Old emails turn up, and she’s on the emergency list of numbers on the kitchen cabinet. I need to get the group photo framed.  I’m not sure how the 6 months went so quickly. It feels like I just saw her last week.

She’d be so proud of Lance learning his clarinet so quickly, for Audrey turning into such a fantastic reader, and for me finally quitting my job and making the brave move to do something else.  She would say “Something where they will pay you what you’re worth,” but whatever.  She’s missing so much good stuff.  She would have had lots to say about my dad visiting Emily this summer, but she would have been glad it happened after all these years.   She would be so thrilled to see Alison growing up looking exactly like Emily, and she would have been incensed that Brady didn’t go to kindergarten just because the other kids were older.  “He’d be just that much smarter and better than all the rest of them,” I can hear her saying.

I have missed her input on the issues in Syria that I wouldn’t fully understand, on the government shutdown, and there will be another election without her wisdom.  I will miss hearing her voice if Hilary Clinton runs for President in 2016. When we met with our financial advisor, I told him that she had died, and then we talked about the stock we had from her. She would not be proud that I have never learned the “language of money,” but would be proud that I was listening to her advice.  We haven’t been up to Bellingham that much, mostly with a busy schedule and mom and Steve’s summer travel, but the times we have been there, it just feels like something is missing. I’ve missed her holding my hand, saying “Hello, sweetheart” in her gravelly voice.  And I really miss seeing her eyes light up when she sees the kids. No matter how poorly she was feeling over the last 8 years, she always dialed it up for the kids.

Whenever I talk about her, and tell someone “When my grandma died last spring at 94,” everyone is always so amazed.  Wow, 94.  But I always thought she’d just be 95 and then 96 and on and on.  94 sounded not quite old enough.  But I know how lucky I am.  I see and hear stories all the time about grandmothers dying at 77 and 82, and I know if that had been her, she never would have moved here, the kids wouldn’t have known her, and I wouldn’t have had those 8 precious years.

When I am stuck behind an elderly woman inching along with her walker or her cart at Costco or the grocery store, I am no longer so impatient.  Often I see the mother/daughter combination that reminds me of my mom and grandma.  Usually the daughter (in her 60s or 70s) smiles apologetically, knowing they are slowing me down.  I try to just slow down and smile at them now, wanting to hug them both and whisper to the impatient daughter that she’s lucky to be there, even if it’s excruciating to trudge carefully through the store for 2 hours to get milk and eggs or to look at the price of every lipstick at Rite Aid.

She has a new great-grandbaby on the way at my cousin’s house, and I will miss seeing her face light up at the mention of them. When I do the photo calendar at the end of the year, I will have to deal with the pictures, update the Christmas card list, and have the year come to an end.

Mom gave me her menorah, so we will light candles in her honor this year, trying to remember on the crazy year where Hanukah and Thanksgiving start at the same time.

We miss you NuNu…

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What we live for

Today we celebrated my grandma's 93rd birthday.

We celebrated at a Japanese steakhouse where they cook the food on the grill in front of you, complete with fire tricks to transfix the kids!

She told me that my kids are some of the things that make her life worthwhile, and make her want to stick around for a while. She said she wanted to be at Audrey's college graduation, which drew some laughter from the kids. Lance said, "Nunu, you would be 109! That's practically the World's Oldest Person!

They know they are special to her, but they don't know how lucky they are--they have always had her nearby. Lance only remembers the visit to Florida from pictures. Pictures and the story about how my mom dropped him on his head on the tile floor. She is a part of their lives in a more regular way, not living across the country for a couple of visits a year like I had. And since her other grand and great-grandchildren live farther away, I want mine to fill in all the visits that the others can't easily make.

And of course as I'm composing this post in my mind, I'm thinking about how seeing her face light up at the sight of my kids makes it all worthwhile, and gives me perspective to try to overcome the frustration at the daily bickering and dirty shoes and mealtime battles.

I know they will be grown up before I blink. But did that stop me from getting irritated when they whined about being bored in the car? Or when they argued over the new magazine that came in the mail? Or from snapping the book closed at storytime because Audrey was wiggling down from the couch, wheelbarrow-style, because she wasn't listening?

Not exactly. But it does remind me to keep trying. And to hope that someday, I will be 93 and have as much to be thankful for as my Grandma does.
Happy Birthday NuNu!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Read Across the Living Room

It has just "clicked" in the last few weeks! Dr. Seuss would be proud!

Reading of "The Wig" from Rachel Broderhausen on Vimeo.

And I realize my last few posts have been about Audrey. Mr. 9 yr old doesn't generate so many blog-worthy, heart wrenching posts these days. It's mostly because his stories often don't feel like my stories to tell.
But if you look at this picture (I am almost barfing that I'm posting it), you might be able to tell what my right-footed boy spends most of his waking hours doing. (HINT: Involves a black and white ball, and at school, a muddy field).

If you can't see it, the entire right big toe side of the shoe is blowing out. Lots of kicking, I guess!

And if it's not soccer, it's this...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My heart belongs to the plumber

She handed me this envelope...
At first I thought, "Who's Bill Wood?" but then realized it's my WATER BILL!

Evidently my water pressure is going down. She must have heard me yelling that someone flushed the toilet while I was in the shower...

She has the answer,

and the best A-for effort sweetness around.
(I will try my best)

Just wonder how much she charges, and if she's bonded and insured?

I have to throw in a special thank you to her fantastic kindergarten teacher, who encourages them to always try "kid writing" before asking someone how to spell things. They do a morning journal writing 4 times a week where the kids write and then have adults come around and show them the "adult writing" with the spelling corrections. But it's all this wonderful environment where the kids write their own words and aren't told they are wrong.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Freeze Frame, continued

I hope no one died of shock seeing a new post from me.

One little love bug in this house just cannot give up Valentine's Day! We got these mystery notes this morning...
(That's "I will always love you" in kid writing! gulp!
She also ordered her breakfast (noodles).
More love notes and pictures everywhere!
This is what it's all about. And what I need to remember if someday the notes aren't quite this loving. And if she takes after her mother, they won't be. Sorry Mom and Em!