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Category Archives: relationships

Aging & The sweetest thing said to me this week.

Lately, I’ve been taking time to exercise more, and I have lost over 15 pounds in a little over a month (conspicuously, I guess, because my family keeps remarking on it.) It’s Summertime, and being a teacher, I’m soaking up all of this time away from the classroom to catch up on family and improving “Me.”

I also last week took just an hour away from my errand run and, after dropping my eldest daughter at work, diverted my path to a neighborhood salon and had my hair cut, radically by my family’s standards. It was just an hour’s diversion, but it’s notable that my family commented on my being late getting back to the house. I downloaded a handful of images off the internet, walked into an unfamiliar Supercuts, said a prayer, and got a cute, asymmetrical cut that my mother says takes years off my appearance, and which matches my upbeat attitude and go-go lifestyle.

On top of everything, one month ago today my second grandson was born, a beautiful bundle of long fingers and toes, pink cheeks and jet-black hair, and pictures of him dot Facebook posing with his elder brother, his sundry doting aunts, some still in elementary school, and his 12-year-old uncle. I am officially, proudly and loudly a “Grandmother.” And one who by all accounts still looks like she’s in her 30s evidently, since I’m told that all the time, although I generally don’t care about that. Much.

Oh! And my 49th birthday was this past week, kicking off my one year countdown (count-up!) to my Big 50th, which I’m plotting to spend on some far-away beach with people I love and who love me. Plans are underfoot.

Which brings me back to the first two paragraphs – about my body improvements and snazzy haircut:

My young son – the 12-year-old uncle of my grandsons who towers over me now and gives off the shadow of a man these days when he passes in the kitchen – my son was riding shotgun with me a few days ago, and as we waited leisurely in the parking lot for my daughter to get off work, I leaned out of the driver’s side window into the sun and looked at my hair in the side-view mirror, remarking absently, “Look at all this silver that’s popped up in my hair.”

To which my son replied quietly, “You know, Mom, it’s OK to get old.”

I gasped, a little shocked, and then got the sweetest feeling, whereby I asked him, “Why do you think I’m worried about getting old?”

“Well, you’ve lost all this weight, you’ve cut your hair, and now you’re talking about the silver in it.”

I smiled broadly, thinking that was the sweetest thing I had heard lately, feeling all warm inside that my son would try to reassure and comfort me.

Then I reassured him, saying I LOVE my new silver and especially the white, wanting it to be as white as Storm’s in X-Men, and that I was eating healthier and losing weight because, in our family, we often live into our 90s and 100s, and I wanted to be as active as I could, avoiding wheelchairs and hospital beds and continuing to make myself a cup of tea, and being that I had only just turned 49, I have a long ways to go, God willing. I can do some preventative work. Forty-Nine is barely out of our youth in my family. I said so with a laugh, and a glance at him in the rear-view mirror.

Well, he said, “Oh!” and was again content, and we continued to blast music and wait in the sunshine for my eldest daughter to be done with the day.

I thought that was the sweetest thing: Comforting me because he knew some people have a hard time “getting old.”

Do you?

 

[Re-printed from my Sidelines writing.]

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I’ll Be Just Grandma, Thank You.

We either love or hate our Grandmas, for the most part. I’ve found that most people I know love them, and love them deeply and intrinsically.

Whether it’s for their hugs or their absences, their cookies or their phone calls, their adventures away or together with us at their sides, their words of encouragement or the acerbity with which they castigate our mothers or our fathers, or even for their kisses when we’re hurt, there are not many I know who hold a neutral view of “Grandmother.” It’s one passion or the other, and grandmothers get to have a special place in our hearts.

My nine-year-old daughter asked me a few days ago as I held my newest one-week-old grandbaby in my arms, having shushed him easily into a contented twilight sleep in less than two minutes, “Mom, how do they know you’re Grandma so fast?” I don’t know. I just love them.

Especially since I’m often lately the “always running, busy, throw advice at my kids as I’m running to the laundry or out the door” kind of mother/grandmother lately, I sometimes wonder why my older grandson has such a deep connection to me. When it’s time for me to go anywhere, he doesn’t care that he has five aunts, one uncle, his mom, dad and grandpop in the house ready to play with him as Grandmom’s running to the door! He wants to go with me! His cries inevitably stop me dead in my tracks, car keys in hand, and make me sit for a few minutes more with him on my lap, having to explain where I’m going, that I’ll be back quickly, and that, yes, Grandmom loves him. It also causes me to have to make one more round of kisses to my children, including his married mother, just so they also know this. Then I run. As usual.

I often dream of my grandmother now long gone from this earth. Even when she was here, I felt deeply connected to her, and to my great-grandmother, and by extension, to my countless great-greats through story and spirit and imagined parallels in life. They were my mother’s mothers’ mother. I imagined them here in the Americas, on pre-Virginian green hills and forests where I was much later born, on African plains in villages telling stories and feeding children as I do now, on the banks of Irish rivers washing clothes and drinking tea on Russian stoops. All waiting for me to join them decades from now, hopefully in my nineties or hundreds like most of mine before me, to join them in their reminiscing and to be the grandmother often dreamed about, waiting for my children and grands to join me when they tire of this earth.

Back to now, running errands as usual, chatting at the grocery store and drinking summertime coffee on the front porch with my nine-year-old right beside me, I wonder at the women growing older around me who choose some other name to be called by their grandchildren, anything other than “Grandma.” I don’t mind the ones who teach the babies to call them “Nana” or “G” or “Minga” or some sort because they have fond memories of calling their own grandmothers such. I don’t mind anyone’s choices, really. I’m just a little worried about those women who feel that becoming a “grandmother” somehow diminishes them, makes them “old” (as if that’s a dirty word.) What a beautiful “old” we can be, if we play this time right.

As for me, I don’t want a substitute name. I am happily just “Grandma,” and it makes me smile.

[Another of my posts from Sidelinesapp.com.  I’d love your comments!]

 

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Marriage and Re-Igniting Excellence: Tending the Flame

[Another reprint from my Sidelines writing.  Enjoy!]

It was my extraordinary beauty that attracted my husband to me all those years ago, and me to him, beauty that, in our eyes, was excellent, or we would not have married each other.

I am not bragging. It is the same with any woman and any man who is married not by coercion or as a matter of convenience. Something beautiful therein lies. Something magnetic and excellent enough that either you or your spouse caused the dating wheel to stop, and you both began to play the game where it lay.

Are you still beautiful? What was his beauty? What was her beauty? What was your beauty, and is it still there? Was it your cooking? Was it the way you walked, or the way your eyes showed deep appreciation? Was it your sharp insight, or your endless patience that clothed him in an acceptance that never ended?

Again, what is your beauty? You need to know, and to keep tabs on it as it evolves, and perhaps as it changes. It probably will.

Marriage is a journey, an obstacle course of sandpits and steeple chases. Occasionally looking in the mirror, even gazing into one’s navel, is sometimes required in order to right a wrong course.

In my eyes, my own beauty lie not just in the shape of my eyes or the curve of my hips, although those are also where it lies for him. My beauty lies in the timber of my heart, the fierceness of my drive, the quality of my art and life as I greet life every day. I think he likes that, too. My smile doesn’t hurt, even though I’ve broken a tooth recently. Your broken tooth can be fixed, if need be.

I’ve learned, however, to recognize the times when I need to re-set the sails, to pull out the stilettos, to quiet the storm, or to make his heart beat stronger. Sometimes that knowledge sneaks up on me, instead of coming naturally to the fore. It hits me over the head after a particularly momentous storm has passed, a storm where neither one of us saw the clouds before they raged and blew us far from our course. After they’ve passed, we usually need to shelter a while to breathe easily together again.

Do you always see when the clouds are on the horizon? Do you know how to batten down the hatches? Can you learn?

So I’m going to ask you: Do you still make your woman’s heart flutter? Do you still go to work with a drive that is only replenished when you come home at night and plug yourself into her energy, your spouse’s welcoming arms? If not, is it that you are now on that plateau of busy-ness and disconnectedness that makes you aware that it is past time to re-spark the wire and add new spices to your marital agreement, lest you neglect it to a point of no-return? That’s an OK place to be as well: Aware.

So are you still excellent? Were you ever? Are you your best self? If not, it’s OK, because we are not always our best selves, and marriage is supposed to withstand those times, as long as you aim to be your best again some time in the (near) future.

So, where are you?

More importantly, share what you do to re-ignite that spark and keep it going.

 
 

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