Do You Believe in a “Chosen Day?”


Before the ringer on the avocado wall phone rang, I felt my father’s presence. On the other end, his shaky voice crackled and choked with words, rehearsed. Finally, he simply said, “Grandma’s, gone.”

What could I say to lessen his pain? “I’m so sorry, Dad.” My father was my Grandmother’s only son, the sixth of seven children. Although I did not say it then, I remember thinking she chose that particular day to meet God in heaven. It happened to be Good Friday of that year, the perfect time for her to go. I believe she knew it so.

My earliest memories of Grandma are visiting her in a spotless abode. It was a considered a ‘salt-box’ house https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltbox, set in a quiet neighborhood on a clean and cozy city block. I remember the bedroom of Grandma’s house as being kind of sanctuary where fancy bottles of rose-water sat on a mirrored tray atop her vanity table. It was to be respected, and never entered without permission. An unspoken rule. My father was born in that very room on Christmas Day in 1933.

Clean and smooth cement sidewalks ran in front of a shiny black railing at Grandma’s house. Like monkeys, I remember my brother and I dangling from it to get a better view of the neighbors next door. Children rode fancy bicycles or skipped hand-in-hand on those sidewalks. Early on, I remember Grandma’s beloved house being covered in old black and gray speckles all the way around. Soon the sides were replaced with asphalt shingles, the color of mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream. It stayed that way for years and years….long after she was gone.

My grandmother was a proud Swedish, Lutheran. She went to church every Sunday in a crisp cotton dress and wore a hat to match upon her gray curled head. In the winter, she wore a long felt coat of camel or royal blue with a mesmerizing pin made of fancy colored stones glued into birds on branches. Now and then, she wore a double heart or a half-moon over the sun.

When I was a little girl wearing ruffled dresses with hair to my waist, Grandma dabbed a tiny dip of fluffy Avon cream to each of my wrists. Soon, I smelled like the flowers that grew in her kaleidoscope garden. Sometimes, I’d pest her until she let me try on her shiny black shoes, the ones with tiny heels and long laces… just for fun. On Sundays, if I sat quietly next to her in church she taught me to sing, “Lu-Lu” when the music played. I was still too young to read the words.

My Grandmother never learned to drive a car. My father drove her to church each and every Sunday, usually scooping her up from the curb a bit late. Our phone rang three or four times before my father together with five children rushed through our waiting back door. Racing to pick her up, Grandma will forever be in my mind, standing at the curb in front of her saltbox home. Even now, I see her there in later years, looking tiny, rocking impatiently to and fro. She’s holding a smooth black pocketbook. She closes the shiny golden clasp, making a clicking sound. Barely stopping by the curb, my dad swings open the door, as if we are driving a getaway car. There’s not a second to spare before my Grandma’s beloved church sermon begins.

Afterward, we’d take Grandma home, where the tradition was to go inside for a dollop of chunky applesauce served in dainty china bowls. On the side were freshly baked molasses cookies set on matching flowered plates. She’d wait on us hand and foot, only sitting to rest after pouring a few cold glasses of milk. Then, she’d excitedly tell us of her daily plans. Gardening, baking or writing personal letters on perfumed stationery, perhaps?

After I grew up and went to college, my grandmother began to forget things. Her old-fashioned stove of white was left burning too long or important house keys became lost in a sugar bowl without the lid. Soon, it was too dangerous to let Grandma live alone. Doctors didn’t have an exact diagnosis many years ago, but today I have no doubt that Grandma lived with Alzheimer’s disease, a Chronic Condition stealing the brain of memory and more. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disease. There is no cure, but today help is available that wasn’t an option for my grandmother. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp  

Two weeks after I gave birth to my first son, I took him to meet his great-grandmother in the sparkling snow of Michigan. For a moment, Grandma had a bit of recognition. Cradling my newborn, I knelt to introduce her to my child. “Would you like to hold him?” Her dull, blue eyes suddenly lit with excitement. Placing him carefully in her arms, she stared at him with love renewed. “Oooohhh, look at his beautiful eyes,” she said, over and over and over again. I snapped a few pictures then. They are the only photographs that I have of my son with his great-grandmother. She was happy in those brief moments, and I’ll cherish them forever. Two weeks later she passed away.

On her chosen day….

Thanking God


To touch a newborn’s innocence is to thank God for living upon this Earth.”

Kim Gosselin

*photo courtesy of Google                                                                                                                                         

Heaven’s Angel


Once a tiny seed, a speck, a fleck

Barely fluttering heart so near

Inside my chest.

Love internal soon to grow

Every second

Hour and minute.

Weeks go by

Turning months

Nearly a year

Soon you’ll be here.

Yes, I feel you deep within

Loving you more

Fluttering like before.

Bigger now, the whole of my heart

Close my eyes to dream

Of butterflies beautiful

Imagined, not yet seen.

Soon to be born

Cradle until you fly.

A gush, a splash

Astounding love envelopes me

Baby born, now you’re here

Skin to skin upon my chest

Pink and perfect

Suckle and cry

Tip-toe peeking while you sleep

Mine to keep.

Bursting heart with love to share

Holding you till the end of time

Rolling over, sitting up, grasping toys and giggling too.

First tooth, big smile and curly locks

Cuddling, kissing, wooden chair while daddy rocks.

Dreams of a lifetime snatched forever

Without warning, halting, stopping.

Half a year is not enough

I cry and shake and ask God, “Why?”

Clutching you, tiny fingers too

Nighttime crib, flannel sleeper, little life

My heart is broken, shattered glass

Pieces and shards, strewn over the blanket of life.

Devastation

No greater loss

Crying…wailing…weeping.

What to do, where to go, can’t survive without my child.

My heart has spilled, its empty now

Feeling nothing dark and dead.

Help me God, to understand

Dry my tears, give me strength

Pass the courage today and every tomorrow.

My babe is an angel that I know

Fluttering now outside my chest

She has her wings

Of a golden hue

Butterfly beautiful indeed

The tiny seed

Once a speck

Invisible fleck held so dear.

Needed in Heaven or so I’m told.

Take my hand to pray with me

Rock my baby night and day

A gift to me forever you see

Kiss her gently, love her too

Till I can join her next to You.

Light of Heaven (3)

*For T in memory of her beautiful baby daughter, and to honor all parents who have lost  their loving babies to SIDS.  My heartfelt blessings and prayers to you.

 

 

 

First Words


Earlier this week I picked my little grand-daughter up from Day Care.  Peering around the corner, I caught a secret glimpse of her.  Tiny and petite at only 14 months old, she sat upon colorful sponge flooring, playing with A.B.C. blocks.  “Hi little Sweetie.”  Hearing my voice, she bounced up like a silver spring, running full force towards the gate where I stood.  Smiling big and wide, the two of her little arms shot straight up into the air.  “Pick me up,” they said!

Driving home in the already dark of early night, I heard her talking to her favorite doll, the one with the bare bald head.  A reflection from the car’s rear-view mirror revealed a little angel clutching her baby oh-so-tight.  What a sight to see for me!  A rubber face of Googly Eyes smack dab next to the rosy pink of my little one’s cheek.  “Bay-bee, bay-bee,” she repeated over and over again.

Important first words for this little grand-baby of mine.  Her mommy was in the hospital for yet the third of fourth time, waiting for her little sisters of identical twins to arrive.  Still far from being due, the babes could come at any time.  God would choose when, while we prayed that all would be fine.  “Bay-bee,” a soft voice said once again.  “Yes, bay-bee,” I responded back to her.

That evening, after my munchkin ate ‘mac-n-cheese,’ played in a warm bath of yellow rubber ducks and changed into pink fuzzy footed pajamas, I cuddled and rocked her to sleep.  Gently, I laid my grand-baby into a spindled crib lit by soft blushes of a nursery night-light.  Puffs of even breath spilled from her perfect pout as she snuggled a bald rubber head together with her favorite flannel blanket sent from home.

Tiptoeing carefully towards the door, I was almost ready to shut it quietly behind me. Hushed and silent, all was still within my grand-daughter’s crib.  Until one soft, sweet familiar word.  “Bay-bee.”

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Miracle Eggs


My family enjoyed a delightful day being together on Easter Sunday.  The sky was full of sunshine and blueness.  Breezy air felt fresh and clean, giving off warm scents of toasty baby blankets fallen from dryers, powdered with newness.  Grass was green and soft to fall upon.  Tall enough for baby bunnies to hole up under pines near plastic eggs hidden for toddlers eyes.  Soon the hunt was on for hidden treasures of rainbow-colored jelly beans, princess stickers, or jewels to wear.

The spirit of re-birth was everywhere my eyes could see.  Pale yellow daffodils looked lovely ‘hiding’ a carefully placed egg or two.  Birds flew near feeders chirping loudly for humans to move away.   Newly built homes hung on branches only the day before, had already been ‘rented’ out for the season.  Feathered heads poked out to see what the fuss was all about.

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