Tag Archives: grandma

Family Tree

“I find the family the most mysterious and fascinating institution in the world.”
– Amos Oz

familytree

My family tree is a little lop-sided.

Okay, I guess I should explain what I mean by that.

I come from two completely opposite families.  On one side – my mother’s side – you have the big, boisterous family.  My mom is one of 9 biological brothers and sisters and then, later in life, added so many step-siblings to that total that I’ve lost count.  family2bAnd then she herself ended up having five children, of which I’m the oldest, so you can imagine that there weren’t many moments of quiet and solitude in my life while growing up.  When I think of that side of the family – the siblings, the cousins, the aunts, the uncles, etc. – I think of laughter and loudness.  Of drama and emotion.   Of lots and lots of outspoken love and endless support. Variety.  Open-mindedness.  Freedom.

And then.  Well, then there’s my father’s side.

My father is an only child.  His mother, my grandmother, is also an only child.  There are no aunts.  No uncles.  No cousins.  It’s always been…well, just us.  And when I think of that side of the family, the thoughts that pop into my mind couldn’t be more different than when I think of the other.  family5bNo, with this side, I think of calm.  Of quiet.  Of dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s.  Of keeping emotion and drama locked up tight and making sure you don’t stand out.  Blending.  Conforming.  Behaving.

Now, I understand that I have just painted this side in a more negative light, but I really don’t mean to do that.  There are pros and cons of both sides.  For instance, on my mom’s side, it’s a little easy to get lost in the crowd.  No one notices everything you do because they have their eyes on so many others.  There will be weeks, months even, without phone calls.  (But that’s okay, because we all know we’ll pick right back up where we left off whenever we do cross paths again.)

But on my dad’s side?  No, there is no getting lost in the crowd.  You are always thought of.  Missed.  Examined under a microscope.  Expected to pick up the phone and make contact in regular intervals.  You are definitely remembered, never forgotten about, and constantly noticed.

Well, as you can imagine, being someone that comes from such different ends of the spectrum has managed to play with my head a little.  The other day, at the insistence of a bored friend, I took an unofficial online personality test.  As I went through the test answering questions about such things as my preference of being alone or in a crowd, and where I stand when I walk into a crowded room (middle or edge?), I noticed that some of my answers were contradicting each other.  And that seemed odd to me.  Do I like crowds or don’t I?  Do I like being the center of attention or don’t I? Taking this test made me think of another odd inconsistency I’ve noticed in my life.  Any time I’m headed to a large get-together, I dread it and think I’d rather be doing anything else – and then, I get there, and I have a blast.   What the heck is up with that?!

Now that I think about it, I can’t help but realize that these inconsistencies in my personality most likely stem from the two opposing influences I had growing up.  Yeah, yeah, I know – everybody blames everything on their parents [cue the mental image of me lying on a couch in a psychiatrist’s office telling him all about my crazy childhood…].  But seriously, in this case, I think I’m probably on to something.  We are influenced by our family, whether we like it or not.

Which brings me to the real reason I’m writing this blog.

Some of you may have seen the post I wrote about my Grandma a few blogs ago.  Thinking that I had done a good thing by writing it, I sent her a copy.  Now, think back to what I just told you about my two families.  This Grandma?  Well, this is the grandma from my father’s side of the family.  The ‘keep what you think to yourself’ side.  The ‘don’t go airing our business for all the world to see’ side.  The ‘can’t you keep your mouth shut for once?’ side.  And, well, as you can probably guess, Grandma was none too happy with what I wrote about her.

Now, I knew this was a possibility.  I did.  I haven’t been completely blind for the last 35 years.  But I thought that since I was telling about this wonderful thing that she was doing, I hoped that maybe she could see that and realize that others reading her story might actually do some good in the world.  And honestly, I thought that it showed how proud I am of her.  Being that we’re the ‘shhhh…don’t talk about important stuff’ family, I thought this would be a way to show her that I think she’s pretty darn cool.  But, alas.  Nope.  That’s not how she saw it apparently.  She thinks I made her look “mean” and that I shouldn’t be talking about private things in such a public way.

*sigh*

Now, I could pretend that it didn’t bother me.  And I did.  For a while.  But as soon as I hung up the phone, the pretending stopped.  The part of me that is like the other side of the family started to peek through, and immediately the tears started falling.  My boyfriend Richard had overheard the whole thing and immediately came and wrapped me in his big ‘everything’s gonna be okay’ arms and told me how proud he was of me for writing it.  Of course, I was upset and told him that I felt like ‘never writing again,’ etc. etc.  So he suggested an alternative.  Rather than not writing, maybe I should just go write another blog, only this time write it just for myself.  Go back to the private blog world for a bit and write the things that I really feel.  Just vent, get it over with, and then delete it and move on.  No missyspublicjunk this time.  Just write some private junk all for myself and get all that crap out on paper. (Heh…little did he know, he suggested the very thing that I already do about him all the time!  Shhhh.)  So, thinking that was some pretty good advice, I headed to the computer to do just that.

And here I am.

I struggled in my brain with not posting this publicly, but suddenly it occurred to me that I was fighting those opposing forces in my head.  Yes, I could write this privately and make that side of the family (i.e. that side of my personality) happy, or I could stay true to the real me and just go ahead and post it.  And if there’s something I’m learning as I get older, it’s to do that “staying true to the real me” thing a heck of a lot more often than I used to.  And, so far, it’s made for a much happier me in the process.  So, I think I’m going to stick to it.

But, oddly, a funny thing happened as I started writing.  The anger and bitterness that I thought I felt towards my Grandma suddenly started giving way to something else.  Rather than concentrating on the fact that she was upset, I concentrated on the why part.  She said that she thought I made her look ‘mean.’  Mean?  Really?  I went back and reread my blog and I didn’t see that at all.  What I see is not ‘mean.’  What I see is ‘strength.’  At first I thought maybe my writing didn’t convey what I had intended.  But as I read, and reread, I realized that it does.  It doesn’t make her look mean, it makes her look strong.

And suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head.  Maybe ‘strong,’ in her mind, equates to ‘mean’?  My grandmother grew up in a very different time than I did.  She grew up in a time where women were to play their appointed ‘roles’ and nothing more.  She was a wife.  A mother.  A cook.  A housekeeper.  A caregiver.  She played the role of her time perfectly.  She was subservient to her husband.  She never got a drivers license (even though she worked for years) because it was not a woman’s place to drive.  She kept her opinions to herself if they didn’t match the man’s opinion, because it wasn’t her place to speak up.  She was a woman.

Well, this woman is now a widow.  She now has no man to take care of her and is forced to do things on her own.  And now, more than ever, I see her spunk shining through.  She is the woman who has to kill snakes when they get too close to the house (see previous blog).  She is the woman who has to fix the plumbing problems when they pop up.  She is the woman who has to be ready, no matter the circumstances, to fend for herself.  She is alone.  And in this loneliness, whether she likes it or not, a strength has developed.  She is tougher.  And that strength, that toughness, is what I was trying to convey in my blog.  And, as evidenced by her discomfort with it, I think I must have succeeded.

So am I sorry I wrote it?  No.  Not one bit.  I meant every word of it.  And will I continue writing what’s on my mind?  You bet I will.  Of course there are some things that will still remain private (I’m not an idiot), but the things like this – this blog that has been stirring inside my mind for the past 24 hours begging to get out – these words will be posted.  They just have to be.  I’m a writer.  I have no choice but to get it out.

I have no choice but to be true to me.

Why?  Because I’m strong.  Just like my grandmother.

megrandma

(Oh, and P.S. – you can bet your patooty that I won’t be sending this one to her.  Rebel?  Maybe.  But death wish?  Nope.)

***

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Grandma

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward

Ok, I’m going to take a break from talking about running for a second.  (Don’t get comfortable with that or anything.  I just started my 21-week training plan for my first full marathon in April, so you can bet your sweet dimpled booty that I’ll be talking that thing to DEATH soon enough…)  But, for now, I have something else I want to tell you about.

My grandma.

Now, in some of my previous blogs, I have told you about my sweet MawMaw, my mother’s mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  But the one I want to tell you about now is my father’s mother.  I have something to show you about her that I think you might like.  (I know I do.)

Well.  Here she is.

grandmablog1That’s my little grandma in a picture that was taken in July of this year on her 83rd birthday.  Now, don’t forget that number: 83.  Because that’s the part that is going to be important to the story I’m going to tell you.  But first, let me tell me you a little bit about this woman.

If anyone were to ever ask me to describe my grandma using only one word, the first word that would come to mind is: “feisty.”  Whew, let me tell ya.  There is NO stopping her.  She will tell you what she thinks and that’s just all there is to it.  For instance, a conversation I had with her yesterday:

Her: Your hair doesn’t look good straight.  It doesn’t suit you.
Me: You’re the only one who says that, Grandma.  Everyone else says it looks better straight.
Her: People lie.
Me:  Grandma….
Her:  They were just trying to be nice to you.  I’m not.

See?

(Incidentally, you’ll notice my hair is curly in the picture above, as it usually is when I go visit her because I know her thoughts on the subject.  Yesterday, however, I was feeling unusually brave.  Bad idea.)

Oh, and how about this for an example?  My grandma has been having some snake issues around her house.  Little does she know, I’m sure even the snakes have passed the word amongst themselves not to mess with her…but nevertheless, she holds tight to her steadfast fear of the slithery little boogers.  So, while we were all gathered at her house after church yesterday, my dad found a live snake in her yard.  He picked it up (he’s weird about stuff like that – not scared of them at all), and proceeded to somewhat terrorize us with it for a while.  (Well, everyone except my daughter Kelly, who managed to fall in love with the stupid thing.)  Well, Grandma hears tell of what’s going on and comes flying out of the house wielding her hoe that she keeps handy for just this very purpose.  Yes, you read that right.  All 110-pounds soaking wet of my granny came flying out of the house with her handy hoe held high over her head…ordering my dad to drop the snake immediately.  He protested (though not for long – he’s known her even longer than I have and knows better than to try to argue) and finally, defeated, dropped his little buddy on the ground to meet his fate.  Here’s a little math for ya.  Grandma + Hoe = Bye Bye Snake.  She hoed (is that a verb?) the little guy until his grandpa felt it.  (And then had to make amends to little Kelly who just lost her new ‘pet’ at the hands of Granny.  Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it amends, per se….”If you had to live here, you’d be taking a hoe to the nasty little thing too, young lady…”  That’s an apology, right?)

Whew.  And those were just examples from yesterday alone.  Catch my drift?

But let me tell you about something else about yesterday.  And about my grandma.  Remember how I told you to remember that number – 83?  Well, I’m going to tell you why.

grandmablog3Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse?  To put it simply, this organization encourages people to put together a shoebox filled with gifts for children.  They then send these shoeboxes to children in over 130 other countries who might not receive anything at Christmas time.  This is a Christian-based organization that provides not only the gifts, but also pamphlets about Christ.  Now, I am fully aware that there are people of many different beliefs that read my blog, but regardless of where you stand on that kind of thing, you have to admit this is a pretty cool thing to do, right?  Anything that benefits a kid is A-OK in my book.  And as for my grandma?  Well, it’s pretty ok in her book too.  In fact, it’s so ok, that she participates every single year.  And by participates, I mean, PARTICIPATES.  This little spitfire of a woman decided years ago that each Christmas she was going to prepare a box per year of her age.  So, this year?  You guessed it.  She prepared 83 boxes to ship off to Samaritan’s Purse.

Eighty-three.  Wow.  Just…wow.

grandmablog4She starts working on them at the beginning of the year and has them ready for pickup in mid-November.  My dad and I helped her bag them up this year to haul out to the front porch to await the church member who would be dropping by later in the week to load them up.  After much begging and coaxing from me, I finally convinced her to let me take a picture of her surrounded by her 10 full large black bags filled to the brim with toys for children that she will never even see open them.  I told her that I wanted to tell the story about her on my blog – to show people what she does every year and give her some credit for it.  She responded, “I don’t do it for credit.  Don’t show my picture to people, it might look like I’m bragging, and that’s not what I do this for.”

Well, Grandma, I know that.  (And, most importantly, those kids know that.)  But no one said that I couldn’t brag on you, now did they?

grandmablog2Inside that feisty, tough exterior lies a heart of gold.  I am so proud to say that this woman has shaped much of who I am and what I believe.  Now, granted, we don’t always see eye to eye on things (and that is probably the understatement of the year…), but it sure is nice to know that someone with this kind of generous, strong-willed heart had a lot to do with making me who I am today.  If I’m even half the woman she is, I’ll be very proud of the life I’ve lived.  As I hope she is.

And, just for the record, I did finally get her permission to write this.  (Well, sort of.  I mean, she didn’t come after me with the hoe when I insisted that I was going to do it anyway, so I guess that’s “permission,” right?)  Like I told her, it’s not bragging if: 1) someone else is doing it, and 2) it inspires others.  And that #2 one is the kicker.  Think about the warm feeling it gives you when you hear about other people doing something nice for each other.  It gives you a little boost – makes you believe in the kindness of our fellow man again and, possibly even inspires you to do the same.  If her intention was to help someone – then I think writing this blog about her will do just that…and then some.  Watching what she has done has helped me, I know that.  And maybe reading this might just help you, too.  Hey, you just never know.

So, how about it?  Does something come to mind that you can do to help someone?  Even if it’s just a small little thing that you think won’t even matter?   Well, guess what.  It will matter.  Go do it.  And if you want to keep it a secret, that’s fine.  Noble even.  But if it happens that someone wants to show you off, let them.  Only good will come of it.  I promise.  You may not have a loud-mouth granddaughter with a public blog, mind you.  I get that.  But I’m sure there’s someone out there that is going to be inspired by what you’ve done, and is going to want to show you off.  And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Let’s keep taking care of each other, ok?

***

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
Francis of Assisi

Braggin’ on the Hun

“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.”
~ Jean Anouilh

Ok, I need to brag on my honey.  [I know, I never do that, right??]

Here he is.  Ain’t he purdy?

richard1

*sigh*

Ok.  This blog is not just about how cute the little booger is, so I’ll get to the point.

Let me just start this out with a simple little 100% true and accurate statement.  I am NOT an easy person to love.  Oh, it’s true.  When I’m mad, I’m FURIOUS.  When I’m upset, I’m DISTRAUGHT.  When I’m a little irked, I’m FULLY ANNOYED.  You get the picture, right?  No little responses to anything – everything is temporarily grandiose.  And, as you might guess, this little teeny tiny eensy weensy flaw sometimes leads to some turbulence in the relationship.  Now, it’s not all me, mind you.  My boyfriend Richard has a teeny tiny little flaw too.  He despises conflict.  (I know, right?  *WEIRDO!*)  And when said conflict arises, his fight or flight response is always…always…’flight.’  Well, for this ‘fighter’ that he’s in love with, that crap just don’t fly.

You can imagine how our disagreements go.

1. Something happens (Richard’s fault, of course).
2. I get IRATE.
3. I fling accusations and demand responses.
4. Richard runs.
5. I get MORE mad.
6. Richard stays quiet.
7. I get even more dramatic because of the lack of response.
8. He gets even more quiet because of my increased level of crazy.
9. Time passes.
10. I get tired and chill out.
11. He comes out of hiding and remembers that sometimes I’m not crazy.
12. We talk. We kiss. We make up.
13. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Get the picture?  Here, let me give you a literal picture in case my words weren’t clear.

blog

Yep.  That’s us.  Well, sometimes. 

(And honestly, it’s really not all that often.  And heck, while we’re being totally honest here, that dude and chick in the picture need to be switched….) :/

(Ok, one more parenthetical.  If our relationship sounds a little too familiar to you, you may be in a turtle/hailstorm relationship too.  What the heck did she just say?  Here ya go.  Read about it here.  We’re a textbook case, and you may be too.  Pretty fascinating stuff.)

Ok, let’s get back to the bragging I promised at the beginning of this story.

Nope, our relationship is not always sunshine and roses, that’s for sure.  But then again, there are times like the past few days.

As some of you may have read in my last blog, my Alzheimer’s-ridden grandmother had a little mishap at the nursing home, and was found on the floor.  What they thought to be a broken hip from an initial x-ray, ended up being an old injury from before (poor little lady) and she didn’t end up having to have surgery after all, thank goodness.  But before we knew that for sure, we were just told that she was being transported to the medical center in Bristol, Tennessee, and was being prepped for surgery on her frail little 85-year-old hip.  So, naturally, my mom dropped everything and traveled here to come be with her momma.  And, also naturally, I dropped everything to go be with my momma.  I worked it out to miss work on Tuesday, and I left Monday after work to go stay in a hotel with her, at least for the first night, so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

And what did Richard do?

He dropped everything to come be there for me.

He drove me there, stayed with us, drove us everywhere we needed to go while we were there (that’s one thing my mom and I definitely have in common – we hate driving in areas that are unfamiliar to us).  He went and got drinks and coffee for the family as we waited, and sat right there with us as the hours drug on while we waited for news, and listened to my poor little grandma as she moaned in confusion and/or discomfort (it was hard to know which was which).  Without technically being “blood” family, Richard played a role in this just like the rest of us did.  He did everything he could to be there for the one that he loved.  Me.

And boy, did I notice.

My little Richard sure can be hard on himself sometimes. Maybe it’s because he has a fiery redhead fussing at him all the time?  Naaaah.  Surely, that doesn’t have much to do with it….  But, seriously.  I think it’s important to remind him every now and then how very much I notice and appreciate these little things that he does for me.  The past few days would have been a whole different story if I, and my mom, hadn’t had Richard along for the ride.  These “small” things will one day be the big things as we look back over these years we spent together.  I hope that we will be one of the lucky couples that make it to the very end.  And, if (when) we do, I hope we look back on our life and see the moments like yesterday.  Not the fights, not the nights in the ‘doghouse…,’ but the moments like these.  The ones where we sacrificed ourselves to each other during our times of need.  Because that is what love is all about.

This is the “us” that I’ll remember most.

I sure am in love with a great guy.  Thanks for letting me tell you about him.

usblog

***

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
– Benjamin Disraeli