Thursday, February 26, 2009

Its been several weeks since I've written any words other than those about the loss of my grandma on this blog. I need this one last post ... to say what I'm thinking and feeling. This is amazing to me. I never thought I'd be so "vocal" about personal things in this way. I'm so amazed that I'm writing this here.

I've been thinking about what drew me so close to her throughout my life so far. And I've been thinking about my own granddaughter. I've stayed away from posting photos of my family, but I seem drawn todo it right now. This is my sweet Sophia, and I am her grandma. She's my first grandchild, and her birth was an experience I'll always treasure. I am so fortunate to have a daughter-in-law who is like a real daughter to me, and who allowed me to be there throughout the whole delivery process.

I'm processing something ... What makes a child connect in a deep way to a parent or grandparent? Is it one thing? Many things? I think many.

Of my two grandmothers... One gave me my heart's desires whenever my sister and I went to visit... new dresses, candy, many visits to the newest cool places ... The other was pretty strict (in a good way). We had chores. She never bought us goodies unless we had "done our part" to help with chores, and its not that she couldn't afford to. She could. We knew we had a responsibility to help in our little way to support the family's well-being. Both grandma's were great cooks, and could cook up a storm. Both were loving, cheerful, and supportive. So what was it that drew me so much closer to one, than the other?

I think it was because she held me accountable. She made me feel important in this. It was that she made it clear we were all a team; that things were just "things"; that it is our words and actions that matter most. I think it was also that she was solid in everything she did and said. I knew exactly where she stood. I knew that her family mattered above all else. There was no gossip, no complaining about or to anyone ... and when tough things happened, she was unshaken. She just "did" whatever had to be done. There were no popularity contests in the family. Each was loved equally, and we all knew it.

All these things are what I hope to pass on to my granddaughter. I hope I will be loved by her... in the same way I loved my grandmother. It will not be an easy task. Its so easy to complain (within ear-shot of the children); to crumble under pressure; to take the easiest route to any one goal. As I've ruminated over the memories my grandmother's life, I've determined to make it my goal to be the kind of grandparent that Sophie can count on... not for money, goodies and superficial things ... but for the real stuff. For unconditional love, accountability, and a positive attitude and outlook on life. I want her to know she can count on me to be honest and fair, but not to spoil her or be superficial about life, love and family.

Is this possible? In a time when there is so much that draw children's attention toward the glamorous and superficial things? I honestly don't know, but I'm going to give it my best effort. I suffer from anxiety when events/life becomes unpredictable, so it will be interesting to test myself. I always feel a bit shaky inside ... but maybe she did too. Maybe she just didn't let anyone see it. I don't believe in hiding things. That never works. But maybe what I'm trying to say, is that I want my granddaughter to hear and see a positive attitude from me. I want her to know that if we are willing to step up and "do" what has to be done, anything can be accomplished.

Its time, and I have big shoes to fill. Can I do it? This is my big question. I hope so.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm back from my Grandmother's funeral in Ohio, and I'm not quite up to much posting yet. I know I will be, but at the moment I'm still trying to find my footing. Many good things happened while I was back at the "home place," but that can wait for my heart to catch up.

For now, this photo was one I took just minutes after I got the call about Grandma's passing. I was standing in the kitchen folded in my husband's arms crying rivers on his shirt when the sky seemed to get brighter. That day was a dark stormy day, as you can see... but suddenly the clouds parted and opened up for about 5 minutes to let the sun absolutely flood through. It was amazing and took both of us totally by surprise.

To me... it was like my Grandma was stopping by to let me know that even though I will miss her, all is well. I'd like to think its the shape of an angel, but my husband thinks its a butterfly. Either way, to me, it was a sign. She is ok. I will be too. Time is on my side.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zella Mae

Its Sunday, February 15, 2009. I have no photos to post... though I have many of my beloved grandma... some when she was young and beautiful... some when she was middle aged and beautiful... and some when she was old and most beautiful of all. But they will have to wait until my computer comes back from the shop. For now, I have only words... and very inadequate ones at best. My beloved grandma passed on Friday, February 13. Her last days were scrambled. She had lived in the home my grandpa built for her until she fell and broke her hip several years ago. After that day she couldn't live alone any longer, and went to live with my aunt and uncle in Wisconsin. She lived there for several years and was doing quite well. Her mind was always sharp as a tack and her heart was strong. Then a sad turn of events. With the economic downturn, my aunt and uncle lost their home... and had to send grandma to another aunt and uncle to continue her care. That was in December. The downturn in grandma's health started then. Not that they didn't care for her well... they loved her and gave her every ounce of their time, love and care... but at 95 years old, moving is never a good thing. It disoriented her, and she lost her will to live on. I have always talked to her by phone at least weekly, and more often daily ... so I kept talking to her with the hopes of helping her to stay as oriented and connected as possible. As her health slid, and after two hospitalizations ... a week ago she fell into a low that she never recovered from. The doctors said her heart was strong, and could've kept her alive for a few more years... by her will was gone. She told me that she had talked to "Harold (my grandpa), Hank (her youngest son, my uncle - gone 2 years ago), and Ruthie (her sister)... saying they were asking her to come. I asked her what she told them. She said she wasn't quite ready. But on Friday, she was finally ready. I talked to her phone that day. The doctors said she could hear me, so I kept talking. My aunt told me she smiled when she heard my voice. These are the things I cling to now. She was one of those women whose heart was made of solid gold. She lived a good life. A long life, and now I search for those things that hang like rainbows in the dark clouds over my house... the memories of her, cherished gems in my heart. On Wednesday I will fly with my Dad, Mom and sister to Ohio, and "the home place" for very likely the last time... to lay her to rest next to my grandpa. Wooster, Ohio has been "home" to our family for 4 generations. The original "home place" was built by my great great grandfather, an ex-Amishman who had an amazing skill with wood. My father was born in that house, and its the place I spent many a happy summer... swimming is the "crick," wandering the corn fields (until they were too tall for little children), cooking with my grandma and great-grandma, snapping peas and beans on the front porch, catching the fire-flies and putting them in a bottle to sit on my dresser for a nightlight... oh, the memories flood forward, along with my tears. I will miss... I am missing my beloved grandma... friend, as much as family to me... she taught me much of that which is most important to me. She set my compass as much as my mother did. To love, to always forgive, to share, to have and hold the most awesome gift of family. The two most important women to shape my life... my grandma and my mother. I have been gifted with the best gifts life has to offer. Thank you grandma. Remember to go to Yoder Street up there ... and I will follow to meet you there one day... only hopefully a few years down the line. I love you grandma.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Have you ever felt isolated? I mean cut off, alone, remote, incommunicado, vacant.... ISOLATED? I've been feeling these words excruciatingly so over the past few days.

Why? Because my computer went down with a loud resounding "NO, I won't work" announcement. Its now at the computer hospital, under-going surgery. Who would've thought I'd feel so naked without it. I use it for my business, banking, communication with my best friend who lives 400 miles to the north, and now for blogging. And to think that just 12 years ago, I went merrily through my days without even an inkling of thought or need for such a machine.

We raised our boys out in the country lanes of southern Oregon, with only one TV channel, no computer (I used a typewriter at work), and without the constant encroachment of information via the airwaves and cyber-space.

My boys are now in their 20's, and every time we all are together at holidays... what do they talk about? YES, their idyllic childhood. The only TV they watched was rented movies (of my choice), or the stray PBS children's program. The rest of the time they spent dreaming up fun things to do... like saving their allowance to buy a roll of duct tape from their grandpa and collecting piles of cardboard boxes to cut and fashion knight's armour ... that appeared to be metal because of the duct tape. They built forts, fed our two dozen chickens, cleaned the coop, helped me weed the garden, moved irrigation pipes for their grandpa... and this list goes on. You'd think they'd feel like they had missed out, but they don't. In fact, my oldest son longs to move his new little family out to the country. This is his dream, and one for which he's working hard to achieve right now. Thankfully his wife feels the same, and hopefully my first granddaughter will be able to enjoy days of using her own imagination, instead of being fed so much jabber that she has no time to just be... invent... imagine... use her own creativity...

So over the past few days of feeling isolated, I've also been thinking. Instead of allowing myself to feel the negative side of this event, I've decided to allow myself to wallow in it. Maybe feeling remote is a good thing. Maybe "solitary" can be used... for good purpose. Actually, not maybe... yes it can. My computer may not be back for a few more days. Maybe I can actually enjoy these days... to make art, to read, to do the things I used to do.

So this morning I'm using my husband's laptop for a few minutes... to check email, the bank and my blog. But the rest of the convalescence of my computer, I'm on vacation.

Happy Valentines Day everyone. Enjoy your weekend... as I will mine. (:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This is my Grandma. Zella Mae.
She is 95 years old.
I love her so much, and have been very close to her all my life.

She was born and grew up in Ohio. I live in California. It's a long way... about 2800 miles away. She has been living with family members for the past several years since she fell and broke her hip. I've talked to her at least weekly... until recently.

Right now I know I'm about to lose her. She is on her death-bed.

Sure, she has lived a long and fruitful life... but death is never fair and always too early. I can't call to ask her how she's doing anymore. When I've asked her that question over the past few years, she always answered.. "I'm doin..." We'd have a laugh and then talk about what's going on in her life, in my life, in the country, in the world.

I miss her already. I know I will be making a trip back east very soon, and will lay her to rest next to my Grandpa. That will be the last time I will be back at "the home place." I have that feeling. I feel sad, but I continually remind myself of the many wonderful years I've had her in my life, the many memories I cherish and the good life she's lived.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Luscious rain, and then a bit of sun at sunset

Morning brought a misty rain, a wonderful luscious rain to my bit-o-earth. I went out to feed my birds and slipped off the steps on the back deck... right onto my back. How does this happen? Easily I can tell you!

Most of the day I nursed my sore back and waited for the clouds to do their job. Toward evening the sun began to peek out from under the clouds. It made such perfect light that I had to play with it. There's nothing like evening sun to make colors leap through the aperture in just the right way.

I noticed that even though I planted my daffodil bulbs too late, they are coming up. I hope I didn't injure them too much. They need their roots to be thick and strong.

Then as I strolled through the upper garden I was shocked to see that a varmint of some kind was able to gnaw through my carefully placed gopher wire basket that was protecting my favorite Hypericum (St. John's Wort). This was a unique plant. First of all, my husband bought it for me on our Anniversary when we spent a weekend in a secluded Inn outside of Mendocino, CA. It had unique coloring... most Hypericum have bright yellow flowers... this one had yellowish-orangish flowers. Most have small seed pods, while this one had huge deep burgundy colored ones. That animal chewed through the wire and ate the entire large root... well, at least we know who won't be depressed anymore! Anyway, I salvaged a plate full of seeds the plant left for me as a farewell gift. I will attempt to plant them ... and hope I can actually do it, and that it will be as wonderful as its parent plant!

I had left my roll of twine sitting on a bench yesterday. Evidently a brilliant spider decided to spin a golden web from it... can you see?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Its now the beginning of February, the time of year when things begin to grow in the garden. Its time to plant tomatoes into the greenhouse... and lettuce, broccoli, many herbs, and much more out in the garden.

The asparagus is up and the sweet violets are perfuming the air. Much needed rain is on its way to our bit-o-earth. The birds are trying to get their fill before it comes. California is in a drought and could use 15 inches of rain... not all at one time of course... but we are way behind in precipitation. Hopefully the next few days will help us in the catch-up game.

I could live in the garden. Every spare moment... that's where the family knows they'll find me. If no one answers the phone... Mom is in the garden. If I'm blue, or the news gets me down with its stories of a bad economy, prices for everything is going up and up, or I'm nervous about how we will make it... the garden is my relief. Out there, the birds go about their business, happily chirping as they follow behind me looking for a bug or worm... the sun still shines, the wind still blows, the waves still come ashore, and life goes on as if my worries don't matter much... and in the grand scheme of things, that's pretty much true.

So, I recollect myself, sweat out the stress as I rake and dig the earth and allow my brain to relax. I reassure myself that my small efforts to grow our own food, treat Mother Earth with respect (within my little realm) and doing my part where I can, does matter.

I take heart once again. Life is good. Every breath is a gift, and until my breath is gone I will do what I can... hopefully with a smile (: