Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Post Graduate Learning

Formerly I learned a lot
Traveling my wisest teacher
Newer lessons bid me stay
Listen to my changing body
Adventure seemed activity
Ready for the rubbish pile
Until on stage appeared two grandsons

Brothers with licenses to drive
Full of who they plan to be
What journeys focused in their sights
Which college lessons are required
Still loving Grandma Ina
Last week extended invitations
Offered me new inspiration

First the eldest set a date
Asked my advice where we should lunch
Entered address in GPA and off we went
But not by any route I knew
Arrived at restaurant in same chain
(I didn’t know there was a chain)
My grandson turned my old to new

His brother next made plans with me
Knocked on door at time we set
Walked right in with plastic bag
Filled with ingredients to cook
Eggs Benedict tradition shared
Between us two before
He even washed the dishes

Reminded me of new and old
Ever present combination
Creating new originals
Gumbo promise for future-time
Seasoned with love and memory
Dreams and hope for generations
And altogether possible


Writing 101 – Life Lessons

A list of things I’ve learned is quite long. Here are the ones that bubbled to the top when I gave thought to my life lessons.

!. No is as satisfactory an answer as yes. I grew up in the South where the culture, at least for girls, was to say yes (mam) no matter what I thought or wanted. I decided when I was fifty to have my yes’s mean yes and my no’s mean no. A more satisfactory arrangement.

2. Freedom is a gift I can give myself. Giving myself permission to grow into myself was exhilarating. It’s not always pretty but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Accepting myself as I am is the key.

3. Taking risks is the machinery of change. I have learned to trust myself to the future of my sometime scary actions and am surprised where I land. Risking stretches me and grows my wings.

4. Love does not define marriage. Marriage defines love. After being twice married and divorced I have shed my romantic ideals. Instead I see the beauty of partner’s shaping a lifetime of history together out of what was given them. Solitude is a gift of being single that suits me now.

5. A sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself is a gift of aging. Old age is funny and a special time to be embraced. I have gained wisdom and am also free to be childlike. It is delightful to be audacious. People don’t mess with white-haired old women when their minds are made up.

6. Children and grandchildren are the center of my life. Watching my six grandchildren grow into their unique selves fills my heart to overflowing. I wasn’t sure how to be a grandmother because I had no role model. Both of mine died before I was three years old. I’ve learned this is not a one-size-fits-all thing. All I need do is love them and show up. They take it from there.

7. I’ve learned that when I walk out my door there is a universe waiting to engage me with surprises and people there to catch me when I fall down.


Pearls of Wisdom From My Grandchildren

I’m learning to know my grandchildren from inside out
They tell me what they feel and think, speak my language.
Connect us deeper than words in many ways.

Grandson twelve years old
Telling about pitching the winning strike-out
“I felt good about myself, knew I could do it,
And pitched with all my fierce competitive energy.”
His grin said it all.

Granddaughter almost nine years old
Showed me a huge bag of library books
Her summer reading project.
I asked how many books could be checked out at once.
“As many as I can carry and I’m very strong.”

First job – grandson sixteen years old –
A life guard who gives swimming lessons,too.
First pay check put a big smile on his face.
No one had to guess his sense of self
Had just gone through the roof.

Little brother – grandson thirteen years old
Clung to boyhood another year.
Went off to summer camp with friends
Will spend days sailing to his heart’s content.
He’ll get serious in another year.

Grandson – also twelve years old
Spent time last year in India, birth place of his mom.
I asked what part of his adventure meant most to him.
“India is fifty percent of me” was his reply.
Deep wisdom tells him who he is.

Granddaughter ten years old
Speaks with dancing feet.
Taps out rhythms on the wooden floor,
Floats with graceful ballerina arms
Reminds me of when I was a little girl.


Negotiating Lunch

When my son and his family dropped me off after our extended family Easter brunch my grandson James asked if he could come to lunch the next day. I quickly rummaged through my refrigerator mentally and said yes. I volunteered that I had deli ham and cheese and “healthy” bread (meaning not likely to be something a thirteen year old would like). James replied that he could bring macaroni and cheese, at which his almost sixteen year old brother groaned as a put-down to his younger brother who considers himself quite the chef. My daughter-in-law, who well knows that I am mostly retired from cooking, offered to send along some left-overs she had on hand. Menu settled we set a time for James to be dropped off at my apartment the next day. Game on.

James arrived with a goodie bag. We explored what his mother had packed and found the remains of a Key lime pie (his mother remembered that is one of my favorites), chunks of cantaloupe and a big bag of potato chips. On my part I had come up with some little pecan tartlets purchased at the grocery store bakery left over from a pot luck with friends. Also I discovered I had bagel thins on hand we could use instead of healthy bread. I laid out the sandwich fixings and we were ready to roll. James suggested we grill our sandwiches in the toaster oven. I replied that in my experience bagel thins tend to get too dry in the toaster oven. Then James, always looking for new ways to do things, said lets add fried eggs to our sandwiches. Yes! He got out a skillet while I got stuff from the refrigerator. James chose three eggs, expertly cracked one for me and fried it over-easy to perfection. He did the same with the other two for himself. I started setting the kitchen table but James wanted to eat on the dining room table. He wanted candle light and music, too. A young man after my heart since that is how I eat my dinner. He put the icing on the cake when he said he preferred old-time music. We agreed on Chet Baker and his jazz horn to accompany our meal. There we sat, two friends two generations apart mutually sharing a convivial lunch.


Funny Tears

Daily Prompt: Describe the last time you were moved to tears by something beautiful.

It was the last time my grand kids were to spend the day with me. I could tell something different was going on as soon as they walked in the door. Aidan had in his hands a small Lego hero figure he had created. His I-Pad was nowhere to be seen. He said his sister Mia had lost it, as well as his I-Pod. I could see that Aidan had lost his happy disposition. Mia seemed content with reading books she had brought with her. I went back to my computer where I had been paying a few bills. All this happened before 9 o’clock in the morning. We three had fallen into a rhythm of beginning our days together slowly.

But obviously not today. Mia turned on the TV to watch cartoons, which she usually did the hour after lunch before their dad picked them up. The unaccustomed noise shocked me out of my usually peaceful mindset. (I guess you can tell I am a creature of habit, as is Aidan. Mia is a maverick in our midst.) I moved into the living room and picked up a word puzzle to do. Aidan had gotten absorbed in Mia’s cartoon so I decided to accept the situation as the best of a weird morning. When the clock said it was time to go outside to the pool Aidan announced he had not brought his swimming suit and did not want to swim. Mia really wanted to. Oh, me. I said I could not be in two places at once and asked Aidan if he would consider sitting with me by the pool while Mia swam. He grumbled but agreed.

Once we were settled I asked Aidan how his I-Pad had gotten lost. Apparently it had gone missing after three friends slept over to celebrate his birthday. But that isn’t what Aidan wanted to talk about. He launched into an in-depth one-sided conversation about the game Mine Craft. I learned one thing – the mines the game refers to are not land mines as I had supposed but old-fashioned mines in the earth.

Finally the clock crept forward to noon. We went to Boston Market for lunch where we were greeted as the usual Thursday customers we had become. We ate lunch and headed back home.

I was glad the day was almost over, and my summer commitment to take care of my son’s children. I looked around the living room of my apartment and thought how home-like it had become this summer of Thursdays with my grandkids. Mia was sitting in my usual chair which she had adopted as hers and Aidan was stretched on the floor watching TV. I thought how beautiful a sight it was – and how precious it is to love grandchildren, whatever their mood. And tears came to my eyes.


Memory Marinated

I thought I’d make a memory.
Thursday, my two grandkids and Boston Market out to lunch is now routine.
But not today.
Grandchildren six in all were coming in a bunch
For Boston Market lunch and time for games.

My imagination saw a happy day for long recall.
A “Do you remember when?” for everyone.
But Grandma was a role soon left behind.
Abandoning the luxury of being present on the side,
It takes a mom to herd the crowd.

We had our lunch and all went well.
Good food and hungry kids left little time to chat.
It was an ordinary meal.
Nothing long remembered, so I thought.
But memories are elusive things.

As we walked home I trailed behind grandkids.
I looked at them and something stirred in me.
As I write this I feel again the tears.
My mother gone for forty years
Would love to see her daughter, now Grandmother of these six.


Educating Grandma : Lagniappe

It was Thursday and they came again. They brought their backpack-full of the day’s necessities – I-pad, I-pod, books and bathing suits. I met them at the door of the building and we made our way up the elevator to my floor. We admired the peculiar bubble-shaped imperfections on the wall of mirrors across from the elevator door. I explain that’s how I know it’s my floor when the elevator stops. Only the fourth floor has such an artistic touch. We stepped inside Apartment 412 and settled in for the morning.

We were getting into a routine. Remarkable, I thought, for only the second time my grandchildren Aidan (11) and Mia (8) spent the day with me while their dad was at work. I checked my morning email while Mia read and Aidan played a game on his I-pad. Aidan has been instructing me in games since Mario’s Cars (?). He is kind enough not to give up. The morning looked like rain which would interrupt our plans to swim in the pool behind my apartment in the patio garden. We still had lunch to look forward to, in any event. And then the sun broke through the clouds and down we went to go swimming.

After pool time we walked over to Boston Market for lunch. Again. There were untried sides on the menu we wanted to order. We haven’t yet made our way through the whole menu so we’ll eat there again next Thursday. After Boston Market we headed to Baskin Robbins in search of new flavors. It will be a while before we exhaust the Baskin Robbins possibilities I think our lunch time routine is set for the foreseeable future. It’s funny that we are all three creatures of dependable habit.

But life has a lovely way of sneaking in something different. After lunch we returned to our own interests. Aidan went back to his I-pad, I worked word puzzles, and Mia wandered around investigating things. I had told the kids that no place was off-limits in my apartment and was glad that Mia accepted my invitation to explore. My old turquoise blue brocade-covered jewelry box caught her eye. She brought me a couple of things to inquire about. My jewelry box contains a multitude of stories I yearned to tell a granddaughter someday. And things I wanted to hand down. I sent Mia home with a locket she can put a small picture in and a turquoise birthstone ring given to me by my mother on my 6th birthday that is just her size.

And the Lagniappe thing? In Louisiana lagniappe means “something extra”- a gift. I have long felt sad, and a little guilty, that I did not have a true “grandma’s house” to welcome my children and grandchildren into. The townhouse where my second husband and I lived was basically the office for his practice of psychotherapy. I and any family guests had to work around the days and times patients were there. Not like any grandma’s house I had heard of. In the two years since I moved to be near two of my sons and families I have often visited them at their houses. This summer for the first time it’s just me and the grandkids in my apartment with my old things and good food, albeit provided by Boston Market and Baskin Robbins. I have discovered that Grandma’s House is truly here – because having grandkids in it makes it so. Lagniappe!