No Regrets

Gramps died last November. In his final weeks, with a terminal cancer diagnosis running him down, I heard him respond to every person who visited or called on the phone that tried to express their grief and concern for him with a single phrase.

“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”

I could hear his words echo in my head on Saturday morning as we gathered outside the same church he was married in to bury his remains in the family plot. Our family dug the hole ourselves, as was his wishes, we sang the doxology and afterwards we listened to Granny’s stories about their wedding and Christmas pageants in the church they both grew up in. As we left the kids rang the church bells. I watched my nephew leave the ground holding on to the rope, kicking his legs all about, trying to ring that big bell, laughing through the tears as I remembered all the times Gramps had gotten my brother in just the same predicament.

Then we went home to the farm he lived on his entire life for a picnic lunch, a rousing game of baseball with the kids, (the kind that would have found him on the pitcher’s mound for sure) and an afternoon of fishing off the pier. Because he was a farmer who knew when to work and when to play too.

I can’t think of a more fitting way for the family to say one last goodbye to a remarkable man who lived a life that allowed him to look everyone in the eye at the end of it and say, with a boy scout’s honor…

 

“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”

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Priorities

I wake up to the radio because I’m less likely to smash things that don’t beep at me in the morning which means that occasionally I wake up to the day’s news report.

Yesterday morning was one of those days. I went from soundly sleeping to hearing the news that Stephen Hawking had died.  Slightly stunned I was still half in dream world contemplating the loss of a renowned physicist who’s physical limitations had inspired so many while the radio man jabbered on.

Artwork by Tooks. Did you know we made a book together? Link in the sidebar!

It seems there was another newsworthy death in the world, Sheela, the local zoo’s 25 year old camel, had died.  I sleepy blinked at the ceiling befuddled by the juxtaposition of deaths.  I wondered at the oddness of the pairing of world famous scientist and author’s death with that of Sheela the camel, as well as wondering what an average camel life span is*, when the radio continued.

This is not Sheela the camel.

I was then informed that “the saddest” news of the day was that Jordy something-I-already-forgot-and-I-only-remember-his-first-name-because-my-cousin-named-a-dog-after-him wouldn’t be playing for the Packers this year. Since I give less than a rat’s behind about football, I got out of bed mind reeling. Really news?  Hawking- dead, Camel – dead, football guy going to play somewhere else. These are my three bits of news you deem important for my day? This is the state of the world that I’m going to start my day with? These specific things are the things you think I need to know?

Jordy the dog who was ever so much cuter than Jordy the football player. (photo from cousin Emily)

I continued to ponder this through making myself tea and ritualistically spilling it on myself as I drove down the driveway (I am my mother’s daughter) on the way to school. I was just coming to the conclusion that people value different things, and Sheela the camel and football are super important in other people’s eyes. Though, obviously, those people are lesser, ridiculous people with messed up priorities because who cares about a game where the ball bounces funny and you stop every three seconds when there are physicists learning new things about black holes…  When there was a cry from the backseat.

“GOGURT DOWN! GOGURT DOWN!”

(I kid you not, that’s exactly what the girl yelled!)

And then I forgot all about the scientist, the dromedary, and the athlete because there was yogurt spilling in the back seat of the vehicle. And that is some seriously important breaking news.

Priorities.

We all have ’em.

*Stephen Hawking says be curious… and so… the average bactrian camels life span is 20-40 years in captivity but up to 50 in the wild. That gives me a whole new pile of things to be curious about, how about you? 

**In other news, while editing this post, John became curious and asked Google “What is the most difficult punctuation mark to get right”… he is a smart ass but I feel vindicated because it’s commas and apostrophes because they have seven jillion rules apiece and who can remember all that?    

A Dubious Purchase

I did something recently I’ve never done before. Something I would have never guessed I would have done. Something that I still can’t believe I did.

I bought a bag of makeup.

This might not sound so ridiculous to you so let me be more clear. I, whose makeup purchases in the last 10 years begins and ends with two identical tubes of mascara, bought a bag of totally random makeup. A bag of makeup that, I might add, didn’t even have single tube of mascara in it.

The woman selling it was very good, very sneaky saleswoman, she caught me at my most vulnerable, in the toy aisle of Walmart. You see it happened like this…

Ivy needed a birthday gift for a friend. I needed printer ink and tortellini. Walmart was the place to go. I met the girls in the driveway after school, so we could all go shopping together. This was mistake number one. The girls (well everyone really) are at their worst at 3:45 in the afternoon.

Everyone knows that at 3:45 you should either be taking a nap or just getting up from one. Not a single one of those girls is either sleeping or has just slept when they climb off the bus.  I, waiting in the truck, was also not sleeping, and I hadn’t taken a nap either. That was probably mistake number two.

After school is also the time when everyone is hungry. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that Ivy keeps growing and is a bottomless pit, Jane eats slower than a snail in February and always has at least half of her lunch left and Clara, well Clara eats a snack at school at 2:30, I have no idea why she’s starving when she gets home but she is.

So I took those tired, hungry and therefore cranky children, who I knew would be tired, hungry and cranky and loaded them up in the truck anyway.  All the other mistakes pale in comparison to that decision and all things that came after this point were directly related to that decision.

Now, Walmart is the closest place for us to buy these three random things but it’s still just about a half an hour away. And remember how the kids are always hungry when they get home from school? Good, because I forgot. So Jane’s leftover lunch parts were fought over, Clara performed a random feat of magic and pulled half a bag of veggie chips from her backpack (I have no other explanation for it’s appearance) and then all the available food was declared boring and fighting erupted. The backseat food wars escalated until the truck pulled over and children were separated in such a way that no one could stay buckled up touch anyone else.

And you wonder why we drive such a big vehicle.

Now before you envision me as the wild haired frantic mother yelling “Don’t make me pull over,” I just want to say that, on this day, I handled everything with a remarkably calm and cool attitude- on the outside.

Approximately 23 grey hairs later we pulled into the park lot. Parking lots, if you don’t know, are triggers for kids to start begging for snacks. Me, evil monster mother of ridiculous expectations said, “No.”

Repeatedly.

There was crying, there was begging, there was the slowest putting on of shoes ever. And then we went into a Super Walmart.

Miraculously, and in a way that you may only understand if you also have young children, the girls all became angels. They held hands and stayed close and smiled and giggled with one another. They happily tried on super freaky looking giant animal heads. My mind reeled with the sudden change of attitude.  And then we hit the toy aisle.

Ivy was looking for a Smooshy, or a Mooshy or a Squishy or some sort of weird smash-able toy. And while they all maniacally ran up and down the aisle asking if they could get toys of their own, (No!) Ivy tried to educate me on the differences between Smooshys, and Mooshys, and Squishys and Smashies and Gooshies and… Under the guise of looking for a Mashy-Smooshy-Smush I threw one last “no” over my shoulder and snuck off toward the LEGO mini-figures.

That’s when she pounced.

Targeting moms in a Walmart toy aisle. It’s either the cruelest act ever or complete stroke of brilliance. Just wait until those mothers have said “no” so many times to their kids they don’t have any resistance left. Then use normal adult language without even a hint pouting while you show them your wonderful shimmer powder and bag of makeup that they can buy, right there between the LEGOS and the Barbies…

I didn’t even protest, I didn’t even fight, I just handed over some cold hard cash and walked away with a small bag of makeup products half of which I’ve never owned and had no idea what to do with.

When I got home I looked at what I had bought, saw that it included a pair of false eyelashes, panicked and did what every girl faced with a bad day and a pile of makeup does. I called my friends.  I had to let them know I was probably having some sort of traumatic crisis and I was in need of help, support, love and makeup tutorials.

 

Mom Ears

I lost my mom ears.

You know, the super sonic hearing ears that let you know every time your child rolls over, coughs or calls out your name.

They broke.

It’s the best thing that’s happened to me in years. Now instead of me jumping out of bed when kids cry or make other random noises in the night, John does. I don’t hear a thing, he has to tell me about it in the morning.

It. Is. Amazing.

I think this is what he felt like all those nights I was up nursing kids and banishing boogey men. (And yes, I nursed those girls, we have YEARS to go before John is even close to catching up with late night waking hours.)

There is one problem though. Since I don’t hear the girls I don’t know they are coming until they show up next to the bed. John can attest from his years on the night shift that when I wake up with someone next to the bed, I scream. For years I woke up to John saying “It’s John! It’s John! It’s John!” until I turned my siren off.

Clara recently got a new blanket, a zebra blanket. It’s soft and fuzzy and has a “hood” on it with a stuffed zebra head she can pull over her own. She loves it. Clara wears it around the house while getting ready for school and sleeps with it every night. It is her new favorite thing.

This was not staged. This is just what she looked like when I went to check on her tonight!

So, when Clara came down to our bed in the middle of the night, I didn’t hear her coming. I didn’t notice her standing next to the bed. In fact I didn’t register her presence at all until a zebra was climbing into my bed and it’s big black zebra nose touched my face.

Facts.

1) I really hate it when things touch my face when I’m sleeping.

2) Zebras are more startling than small children.

3) Screaming in a panicked fashion in your child’s face does not make them feel better.

I lost my mom ears. It’s pretty amazing but I do feel a bit bad for the kids.

 

 

Seven Days of Black and White

There is a photo challenge going around, one week of black and white photos. No explanations, no people. I love this challenge, I’ve done it twice now. But this week, this week was a hard week, and I wrote down a bit about each photo as I took them, a snap shot of a diary on a  rough week.

Day 1: A few years ago Grandma picked up this book, A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, off the bookshelf and noticed that “Verses” was ripped off the front of the book.   Ever practical Grandma stuck a few stickers over the torn part, and knowing that my girls loved books gave it to me to bring home for them. She read this same book to me when I was a kid, and I have read it over and over to my girls. Grandma Elma died this morning, and I’ve read this poem innumerable times since she used to read it to me but this verse I still hear in an echo of her voice every time I see it.

Day 2: I’m sitting on the floor in my grandparents living room (my other grandparents) I can hear hum and gurgle of Grandpa’s oxygen tank and his terrible rasping cough behind me. Granny is watching me play marbles with Clara and Jane and my Mom comes over to laugh at how terrible we are. We take turns visiting with Grandpa when he’s awake as we do our best to make some good memories during hard times.

Day 3: I’ve only been home for four full days in the last two weeks and when I walked back in the house tonight I find a friend has been at work and I can do nothing but stand in my clean kitchen, look at the meals in my refrigerator and sob with gratitude.

Day 4: John helped me carve out time to go to capoeira. I love my fellow capoeirstas and you can’t worry about anything other than what you are doing when the kicks start flying. It was a much needed break this week.

Day 5: I’m ready to drive back home from spending another day with my grandparents and parents. Driving alone makes me cry. The days are long and hard but worth the tears and the miles.

Day 6: Spinning in circles with a rare night at home. I think I forgot how to be at home, and then I found the fire and figured it out again.

Day 7: Back with my family. Grandpa is failing quickly and everyone, even the puppies, are exhausted.

 

O Lawnmower How I Hate Thee…

O lawnmower, how I hate thee. Let me count the ways…

  1. You are noisy, so noisy hearing protection is required. Sometimes the earmuffs that I leave over the steering wheel attract earwigs. I have so far always found them before putting them on my head. So far…
  2. You bounce and you vibrate the whole time I drive you. This makes me jiggle in unpleasant ways and reminds me that I have more jiggly parts than I’d like. Ride you long enough and even my non-jiggly bits start turning to jello and I slide off feeling like I’ve been living on a couch, eating potato chips my entire life.
  3. You cut crooked. I’ve tried to correct it, but you insist on cutting one side higher than the other. As a result even a freshly mowed area looks like a bad haircut.
  4. You run out of gas at the worst times. Is it because I run you at highest possible speeds at all times? Or because I never check before we set out? Whatever it is you’ve never run out of gas near the garage or a gas tank, nooooo always at the far end of the orchard. Always with the job almost done. You have terrible timing lawnmower. Terrible timing.
  5. You break. Your belts break and your doo-hickys fall off and the thing-gummy gets clogged and even when I fix them for you, a job I detest, they just go ahead and break again. Are you trying to tell me that zipties are not the fix for everything? How rude lawnmower, how rude.
  6. The important parts of you never break. You are the lawnmower that will not die. Do you even know how old you are? I have run you over sticks and stumps and small brush piles. Got you stuck on rocks and ditches but will you quit on a hot day and give me a break. Oh no, you will not!
  7. Your tire leaks. Slooowwwllly. So slowly as to not be worth patching. So quickly that it needs to be aired up almost every time you are used. No one likes a square tire lawnmower. No one.
  8. You don’t cut in reverse. You claim it’s for my safety. I say that’s total BS, you are just lazy. If you cut in reverse we’d be done so much faster.
  9. You don’t corner for beans. You are a lawnmower not a flatbed truck. Why do you have the turning radius of a school bus?
  10. But the thing I will never forgive you for is that because of you, I mow the lawn.

In related news my lawnmower dislikes being left outside in November with no gas and is now waaay out in the orchard with a dead battery and a flat tire. And though I removed the mouse nest and gave it some fuel, it still refuses to run properly. Ungrateful beast, it better shape up before the snow flies! 

 (Yes I know, most of these things are my fault. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have left the lawn mower outside. Yes, I still hate it anyway.)

Mysterious Noise

There is a noise in my truck.

Sort of a cross between a cheep and and a squeak.

It’s the kind of noise that might be made by a small animal or bird.

It’s also the kind of noise that could be made by some sort of springs or belts doing whatever mysterious things they do.

Unfortunately, I have the kind of truck where neither source of squeaking would surprise me.