Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blog-ability: My Grandmother's Journal

My paternal grandmother was a remarkable woman. She was a woman of profound faith and keen observation. That this is true has rung especially true to me since I began reading her journal for 1960, the year I was born.
My sister found the journal among some of Grandma’s things and brought it to me. She called it a treasure. And so it is.
The entries begin, of course, on New Year’s Day, which was her wedding anniversary. How she and Grandpa celebrated their day is described, along with the weather, the news of the day, and a host of other things.
It continues, not daily, but frequent entries about things that even these years later are interesting. In her flowing script she records her thoughts on things ordinary and remarkable, things mundane and things spiritual.
There is such depth and such detail.
Among the entries: the weather the day I was born. What flowers bloomed longest that spring. She records my baby milestones - what I did and when I did it but more than that, she records her particular observations about those things.
It really is amazing to read. Reading it has motivated me to do this blog. Maybe a computerized version of her journal will meet the need I feel to record, as she did, the goings on in my life.
I am not tempted to do this recording of things the old fashioned way. My penmanship is not so handsome as hers nor do I have her patience. The occasional few paragraphs about life’s events, though, I think I can handle.
My observations will hardly be so keen as hers, but this will allow me to record certain thoughts and ideas for my own granddaughter, who is now two, and those grandchildren, who, I hope, are to come.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Family Day

Saturday was family day. I love those days. Katie and I brought along a friend. Friends make family days even better, we think.
There was some part of the day devoted to every member of our family and certain of our friends.
Though before days’ end, we had gotten some framing done – a watercolor/characterture I’d had done of our grandbaby for Tommy’s office and two art prints of the Florabama Coast where we went on vacation and of the Vieux Carre in New Orleans for Katie’s bff) We also picked up some scrapbook items for my bff.
We started the day, though, at a shoe sale, where I took pictures of every kind of wild shoe I could find to forward to a friend for her amusement. That friend did not get to come along on the trip, but I wanted to include her somehow. She and I had just discussed a blog where the writer stated what she needed most after a long, hard summer was to be amused. We agreed, so I started the day amusing the both of us with pictures of my feet in shoes I (for the most part) would never buy. I did purchase a pair that are rather out of character for me, mostly because the friend who DID come along has some like them and influenced me.
She and I both bought mostly shoes for persons other than ourselves. It was family day, after all. There was also a perfect pair of jeans search that took up part of the day. Lunch was fabulous, except for the guacamole made tableside, which the experts deemed to be too “limey.” The conversation, in particular, was fantastic. Katie discussed her decision to try out for cheerleader. Amy announced that she is auditioning for a solo part in her choir’s next concert. Their brother is auditioning for life. Sadly he ventured near death again recently.
The good news is that he decided, given his devotion to a certain female in his life and at the urging of certain strong willed family members/friends, to bring said venture to a close. He continues to struggle with a narcotic addiction that began when, as a young teenager, he suffered the horrific loss of a close friend. He has struggled since then, and struggles still. Recently, he remarked that he realizes he always will.
My response sums up something I have learned working with many people with substance abuse and mental health issues. How those came to be is not so much the issue as how they are handled. “Someone with diabetes will likely struggle forever. They have diabetes on Christmas, Thanksgiving, on their birthday and on summer vacation. They will adjust their conduct, their choices from now to the grave, or else they will become sicker and sicker and ultimately, they will die an early death as a result. One has to take responsibility for one’s issues, one’s problems, one’s addictions and diseases. If we do not, they will consume us.”
I told him this, quite frankly, as I have many times, I will do all I can to help him be well and healthy, but I cannot; I will not, participate in his destruction.
He called as we were leaving to spend the day with his sisters to report he is able to eat again. He believes himself to be making progress. We took change by to him on our way out of the city on Saturday, so he could get vending machine snacks if he wanted them. It was a small gesture, but one intended to encourage him to try out for a life without chemicals.
We hope he gets there, or at least decides to commit to the long journey ahead in earnest.
As for my darling daughters: I can hardly wait to see Katie tumble across some field or gymnasium floor again. And if Amy gets a solo part, I will be there on the front row to hear her. And I will invite as many of my family and friends as I think would want to go with me.
We will make it a family day.

A blog-worthy day!

My baby started her junior year of college last week. I am still trying to figure out how this happened. It seems like a half hour ago she was starting her first day of kindergarten. I once rolled my eyes when people made statements like that. "Seems just like yesterday..." seemed to be the beginning of many conversations of my grandparents and those of their generation.Maybe it's a rite of passage, repeating phrases like that. I'm not certain.What I am certain of is, the older my Katie gets, the more our time honored traditions mean to me. I know I am showing my age. It was bound to happen. ANd I have been doing a lot of it lately.Case in point: Katie and I have been taking a mother/daughter shopping trip to pick out her first day of school outfit for a long time. It started of necessity, really. Taking three children at once to get things for back for school proved too much for me. I started taking them one at a time, leaving the other two for a day with their Dad. We’d make a day of it. I let them pick their favorite spot for lunch. It was all about them and only them that day.

For Katie, this all came after I stopped smocking for her. In the early days, I would let her pick the smocking plate she wanted and I would spend a good part of the summer making her first day of school frock.

That ended the year we went from dresses to a top that she says resulted in the longest school day of her life. It was made of chambray, done in her school colors and featured the school mascot, Stars. I thought it was darling, but apparently I was the only one. I recall her telling the sad tale to a friend one night at church. She can comment further on that if she chooses. Suffice to say, after the smocked star shirt, we started getting her first day of school like her sister and brother did, at the all-about-you back to school shopping trip.
Now fast forward to 2009. She is about enter her junior year of college. She has attended Summer school (yes, she did get a first day of summer school dress) and we plan our day together. She goes by a professor’s office to check on a grade and mentions she is leaving to meet her mom to get pick out a back to school outfit.

“Ya’ll still do that?!” was the professor’s response. “Of course” said my Katie.

We spent most of the day in darkened shops featuring loud music and clerks with astonishing hair color (at least to me!) She picked the lunch spot, just like old times. Then we went on a hunt for just the right supplies – each year has a theme, you know. And while we are way past Disney characters and Barbie, a certain shade of pink (we call it Katie pink) we have not outgrown.
My sister wished us a “blog-worthy” day, knowing that I just started this blog thing (since her own daughter taught me how.) And it was a fabulous day. Me and my baby. Just like old times.