Category Archives: FAMILY

Forgiveness. . . and My Grandsons Curls, Part 2 of 2

“It had to be cut, it was getting in his eyes, and sticking up all over.   I can’t handle it if you get this upset every time.  I told you yesterday it had to be done.   My throat feels like paper and I am so nervous I feel nauseous.  I am so, so sorry  for what Helga did and I know it hurt but she is gone and we have this beautiful little boy that we’re raising and things aren’t like they were.”

I put my bags on the kitchen counter and reached  for the mini diaper bag I used when I took my three-year-old grandson  on our daily errands.

“I am dealing with it the best I can but don’ ask me to talk about it.  I’m handling it but I can’t talk about it.”

“Mama, I don’t want you to “handle” it!  I’m going to have to cut both boys’ hair for a long time, to save money and so they won’t be traumatized at a barber shop.  But if it’s going to make me you and me both sick every time I’ll pay to get it done.”

I finished packing the diaper bag and managed a tight-lipped “I guess some wounds never heal”, the phrase that had been reverberating in my mind since the phone call.  I could hardly contain the bitterness and rage and most of all, the hurt.

“Well, you’re giving me a wound, too, and it’s never going to heal if you don’t really get over this.  Look, you’ve stopped all the rest of that generational stuff.  You didn’t pass on the abuse and you were the best mom in the world for me and for these babies, too.  They adore Nana.  Let’s stop this problem now, too.”

I begrudgingly opened my arms and enfolded her, still mad.  I had counted getting on whisking my grandson out the door and being alone with him for a couple of hours of silence and baby talk as we shopped so I could settle down.

I was furious with the memory and even more furious with myself for hurting Sharon.  Being trapped into confronting the conflict felt like I was coming apart inside, a feeling that had recurred during counseling with lessening frequency over the years.

“How do I handle this, Lord?” I tried to relax my stiffened body as Sharon, in a tender, loving role reversal, tried to comfort me.

“Listen, Mama.  You did an awesome job being my Mom, all by yourself, all those years,  and you are helping me and Craig do an awesome job with these boys, too.  We couldn’t do it without you. We count on you.  We need you.  I need you.”

At last came a deep sigh, a deep breath, and a heart-felt hug from me.

“I’m sorry, baby.  You know I’d rather die than hurt you.  I will learn how to handle it. . . “   If it kills me, I thought silently.

Sharon  pulled back from me, one brow arched quizzically.

“No,” I said. “I mean I will learn how to really get over it.  I will.  I am okay now.  Thank you for talking me down out of my tree.  I love you baby.”

Twelve hours later, sitting in the dark, stroking my precious, purring Barnabas, thinking silently with the Lord, the answer came.  Out of His deep love, God had arranged the only thing that would make me face the unforgiveness that still lurked in my heart.  As encrusted and decayed by the acid of hate as the rusty orange remnants of the Titanic, only He had known how to plumb that oceanic abyss.

“I am sorry, Father.  Forgive me for my reaction.  To be honest, I don’t like this at all, still, Father, and I am still mad but please help me forgive. I am willing to be made willing.  And thank You for stopping me from hurting Sharon.  I love you, Lord.”

A while later,  Barny was especially affectionate as we shared the pillow on my single bed.  He licked my hand as thoroughly as a mother cat with a kitten, rested his velvety head against my cheek, and placed one feather-soft paw on my neck.  I knew my precious little companion understood that I was upset.  This was not the first time God had loved me through the love of a cherished pet.

Our sleep was sweet that night.  And so have been the rest of the inevitable haircuts—thanks to the amazing grace God bestows on the human heart that is truly repentant and truly trying to follow His teachings.   Grace, grace, God’s marvelous grace!

Forgiveness. . . and My Grandson’s Curls, Part 1 of 2

“Please don’t be mad, Mama, but I cut his hair shorter than I was trying for.  It is just so curly it’s hard to get it even.”

“That’s okay.  Don’t worry.  I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

I flung my phone into the empty passenger seat.   The back flew off as it bounced against the door.  My mouth hardened and my eyes narrowed as I stared at the road through sudden tears and anger as deep as 39 years ago.

My former husband, former for forty years now, had left our two-year-old daughter alone with his face-in-Christmas dinner alcoholic mother – again.  We lived rent-free in a cottage next door to his parents.  He had ignored the strongest words I had ever said to him, up to that point. “Don’t you dare leave Lori alone with Helga.  You know she gets plastered in less than five minutes.”

I did not know he had left Sharon alone.  I had assumed when he took Sharon over to visit, that he was staying with her.  That’s what I reminded him to do.

But. . . Helga had brought Sharon  back to the cottage later, alone, but it was a different Sharon.  My baby girl’s wispy, blonde curls– the silky little feathers I wove my fingers through each night as I cuddled her to sleep – were gone.  Forever.

“I just evened it up a little,” Helga said with a tentative, drunken smile as she stood in the doorway.

“Evened it up my ___,” I thought but dared not say.  I had to go along to get along for our rent-free tiny cottage.  “You cut two inches off.  My baby girl has a Buster Brown pageboy, you blankety blank!!!”

I don’t remember what I actually said as I pulled Sharon inside and shut the door.   That was four decades ago, before I learned to speak up for myself.  Regardless, that night brought my father-in-law’s scalding criticism down on me for “making” Helga get drunk again.

I don’t remember much of that dreadful, short marriage, but it gave me my precious Sharon – as well as a  thorough understanding of Al-Anon.  Soon after the divorce, I had given my heart to Jesus and Sharon and I had been more than fine ever since.  Also, many fruitful seasons of counseling had flowed through the years since then.

However, when I opened the door to my daughter’s house and looked at my grandson –his cap of ringlet curls gone– I saw my freshly-shorn Sharon and Helga.  I slammed my bags down on the counter and started to walk to the bathroom, so mad I was afraid to speak for fear I would shout or scream or  both.  I never did either and I certainly did not want to do that to my daughter or scare my two grandsons, who were already upset because I had not given them their usual boisterous hug and teasing from Nana when I walked in the door.

“Please don’t do this, Mama!” Sharon said as her eyes shone wet with unshed tears.

Say “Thank You” . . . while you can

A man who was my mentor, a good friend, and my boss for seven years passed away this week.  I sent a  card, but I desperately wish I had called to tell him thank you, one more time.  He was an important influence in my life and was the reason I chose to pursue a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Measurement.

He was my first professor  in graduate school, and he helped me see statistics was not so hard after all, which was a game-changer for me.   He was in charge of the department with which I did some contract work after graduation before eventually being hired full-time.

I looked at  the beautiful video of his obituary through tears.  I saw photos of him as a young boy, teenager, new husband, new father, then pictures of times with his wife and their two girls as the girls grew up, got married, and had children of their own.  There were so many touching photos of him with his grandchildren, and the joy on his face was so very evident.

The video began and ended with scenes of the ocean, gentle waves washing into the shoreline, then receding back to their source.  He had loved the water, and lived near it, all his life.  The last photo was a shot of him standing on the balcony of his home on the water, waving.

I had told him thank you many times during the years he was my professor and then my boss.  But I so wish I had taken just five minutes out of my busy days to say thank you and to remind him of how much he had shaped my professional life.

What a lesson for me – to grab each chance to express appreciation and love to those around me.  Life, as the Bible says, is indeed like a mist that vanishes in an instant.  Our days on this earth are so short.

Dear Father,

Please help me to give more of my time and my heart to showing love to others.  Help me seize each opportunity to express the love You put into my heart for other people, whether they are in good health or not.  Forgive me for not reaching out one more time to say thank you to my mentor and friend.  Comfort his family and his other friends and colleagues, and turn their thoughts toward eternity.  I love you Jesus.  Amen.

Crackers in my in-box – what joy!

emjoy little things plaque

Keeping my desk tidy daily helps me feel organized.  When I feel organized,  I think more clearly.  Howsomever, my goals and reality in this regard often do not match.  So, I take time once a week to clean up.

Today, I laughed when I pulled out one and a half Triscuits from far back on the third shelf of my desk trays.  This was my youngest grandson’s private stash from his last overnight with Nana when we had sat at my computer and looked at videos of trains, frogs, butterflies, and anything else I could think of to delight him.  I hadn’t even seen him put the crackers there.  They were a little gift, as sweet as the scent of baby breath, when I found them.

Until I had grandchildren of my own, I never really understood how it feels.  Of course!  How do you explain the thrill of seeing your own and your child’s features reflected in their children?  How do you explain the quick tears when you see one your father’s face in your grandson’s and you see that his hands are going to be just like his great grandfather’s?

How can you possibly thank God enough that You get the chance to hold a baby, to snuggle them close for naps, to smell their sweetness, to stroke  the velvet skin of their chubby little arms and legs and be a Mom or Dad all over again?

Most of all, how do you thank our Heavenly Father for wisdom from Him to cherish each moment of their childhood more fully than you did with your own  children?

The quote pictured above says “Enjoy the little things in life. . . for one day you may realize they were the BIG things.”   Triscuits in my in box is a BIG thing.  Thank You, Lord, thank You!

And by the way, my daughter is SUPER health conscious about food for the boys.   Her cracker of choice for their snacks is Triscuits.   I like ’em, too, especially when shared, bite for bite, with Alan or Ben!



Prioritizing Family – Still, Ever, and Always!

Yesterday, I was 20 miles out in the country at 7:00 a.m., caring for two horses and my disabled friend until 10:30, then it was on to my daughter’s.  When I arrived at her house, sweaty and covered in horse hair but happy, my daughter’s face showed that, for this day, her parenting reserves were spent.  After a  quick shower, I took Allen, the two-year-old for lots of dillydally errands – the drug store, the post office, the library, and the thrift store.  From 11:00 a.m. to our 2:00 p.m. naptime, it was hard to tell who had more fun, Allen or Nana!   Meanwhile,  Sharon and four-year-old Ben had their own time together.  Right now, our battling- toddlers need some daily space apart as well as special time alone with one adult.

I got Axel to sleep, then plotted with Papa via phone.  When he got home for work, Mama went out for a haircut and then Papa and the 4 year old met her afterwards for an “almost date”.  (Any time they have only one child it is a date night for them for now!)

I played at home with my two year old grandson (to his constant gleeful delight) until 9:30.  When Papa, Mama, and big brother came home, my little golden-haired darling ran around hugging legs  (“Papa!  Mama!”) then he hugged my leg (“Nana!”) though we had been together since 10:30 a.m.   Then followed 15 minutes with me taking pictures of the four of them together and semi-dressed up (which rarely happens at the same time).  Mama and Papa sat on the couch while both boys launched themselves into their arms – over and over.

Was I exhausted as I drove home at 9:45 p.m., after my 17-hour-day?  Yes, but my little family had bailed out their emotional boat, as my beloved son-in-law Frank puts it.  They were on an even keel again, before their arduous weekend when Mama would be working nights .

Did this day take precious time I need to prepare my website and  blog?  You betcha!  But with my time and energy I purchased priceless memories and the certain knowledge that I had helped my family.

In my very ordinary life I have, blessedly, learned that God’s greatest blessings are not monetary, as He explains in the book of James.  If I budget my time in line God’s priorities, such as love and service, He supplies all my needs  – and so very, very much more!

My “Priceless” Antiques

Most everything in my apartment is a second-generation antique – and truly priceless.

I remember seeing Daddy empty out his pockets into a wood tray on the top of the maple chest of drawers that now holds my clothes.  I see my infant daughter, frog-like little belly and long tiny legs, smiling up at me from its padded surface as I changed her diapers.  For the seven years we lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, I saw Sharon’s  collection of model horses on it and, later, her first jewelry box, which I have “inherited” and have used as my own for twenty years or so.

I used a small white bookcase to old the books and novels that shaped my teenage dreams of being a writer.  Within a few short years, Sharon used it as her vertical toy chest, too.  She adorned both sides and two shelves with her first Crayola mural, which will be there when she inherits my priceless antiques one day.

Today, my grandson’s plastic monster trucks, coloring books, and the Nana’s house branch of their personal library fill the by-now wobbly shelves.

A focal point in my front room is a three-generation antique.  My Mom told me she and Daddy purchased the wooden toy chest on lay-away when my older brother and I were both small.  I saw that toy chest in my childhood home my entire life, long after my brother, younger by six years, outgrew it.   I understand why Mom kept it as an integral part of the furnishings.  It keeps memories of your children as toddlers warm and close to your heart.

Because my Sharon was the first grandchild, she got to put her xylophone, Fisher Price telephone, and stuffed giraffe in it. And, I, too, kept it as part of the furnishings until it had to go into storage for two years when I relocated.

The hinged lid style was declared unsafe many years ago by the wonderful folks who check the safety of toys.  So, it now holds cherished mementos of I have of my Dad – his old hunting cap, one of the many baseball trophies he and my two brothers accumulated, a notepad and sunglass case that resided in his shirt pocket, and one shotgun shell.

I have it turned around and the lid safely secured so my grandsons cannot open it. They gleefully use it as their table when they visit Nana.

The mere presence of that little toy chest fills me with the warmth and security and love that my Dad radiated as he sat in his recliner, and we three kids lay on the floor around his feet, watching Westerns on TV.  Yes, my antiques are truly, truly beyond price.