Saturday, January 27, 2018

Who's that Girl?

The other day I was working on family tree stuff and stumbled across some photos which made me go....hmmm.  As the first born, there are LOTS of photos of me...some of which I wish didn't exist.  Like the one of the perm from hell when I was about six.   At first I just chalked it up to being 10 times older than that poor curl challenged kid. And yet, getting older doesn't bother me. Honest.  But when I saw this photo I wondered....

where did she go?

Where is that little girl who was thrilled into a rubber faced expression of glee?  Sure, I was only 5.  
But I remember the enthusiasm on that face.  
Even more, I recall that feeling of utter joy.
When did I get so serious?

And this kid.  
Sipping tea at her own personal birthday tea party with neighborhood girls.  
How did she grow up to be someone 
who can't tolerate being in a group of chatty, socializing women? 

About the time I was beginning to wonder how this kid and I could even be related (you should see the frilly dresses, petticoat & hat years!)
I found her.

 This me I can relate to.
This may be the beginning of my sense of humor.
Laughing was fun.  Still is.  
 I still tend to see humor where many people don't...
because they don't take the time to look.
Would you believe I still have that hat and elephant?
His name was Ellie.  Yep.  His.  
Even my imaginary friend was a guy named Gene.

So if I grew up in the days of frilly dresses, manners and never saying anything to hurt anyone's feelings, why did I cling to male role models?

Maybe this is the answer.  
Seems I was the only little girl in the neighborhood for a long time.
(Although this photo makes me look like a zoo animal on exhibit). 
If you only have boys for friends, their species seems the most...normal.

 I grew up diplomatic, lady like, possessing manners and a sense of humor,
yet to this day I'm more comfortable around a group of guys. 
They have less rules.  They tell you how they feel, let you chime in and it's over. Most don't hold grudges.
And fortunately for me, they came from a generation who understood
that NO meant just that.

Thanks guys.
You helped me see the world through a different set of eyes.
Which is a good thing since the world isn't as black and white as these photos.

My urge to giggle when no one else has seen the joke (yet)
is just DNA related.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hey, anyone seen a chocolate cake?

I write a monthly newsletter for my seniors citizens.  After 24 years of that, you start to worry about repeating yourself.  Instead, I decided to poke a little fun at myself while marveling over the fascinating changes my grandfather experienced. Here it is.

I have one of those “milestone” birthdays this year—much to Mom’s dismay. I turn 60. (She STILL declares herself too young to have a kid my age). I don’t dread it. Any occasion featuring chocolate cake is a win. 

An adult once told me, “Age is mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn’t matter.” I believed them. Still do. So while I’m too young to retire or collect Social Security, my brain believes I’m more of an “experienced kid” than real adult. Growing up, I had adults to admire...role models, like road maps on the journey to adulthood. And I still find myself glancing around, searching for those adults. While my reflection in the mirror claims I’m suppose to be one, some days I don’t feel like one. Then again, when you’re my height, you’re often treated like height equals your I.Q. or age.

I’ve worked on my family tree for years, yet I was surprised to realize my paternal Granddaddy was 60 years old when I, his first grandchild, was born. As a kid, I thought he was r-e-a-l-l-y old because he was born in 1898; everyone else I knew was born in a year starting with 19. Plus, he had an “extra” middle name: Dwight Moody Rhett. Even little girl me under-stood why he’d quietly dropped the “Rhett” from his signature. 

We lived next door to my grandparents until I was eight. Over time I realized all the remarkable things Granddaddy had witnessed growing up. Born when McKinley was president, he’d known 12 presidents in his lifetime; from the intriguing Teddy Roosevelt and FDR to the disgraced Nixon. After a childhood of horse drawn carriages and telegraphs, he’d witness radio, airplanes, cars, television (B&W to color) and men walking on the moon. During his lifetime he saw the creation of things I take for granted: paved roads, air conditioning, windshield wipers, traffic lights, sun glasses, parking meters, toasters, supermarkets, recliners, clip on ties, the electric razor and cheeseburgers. 

Born during the Spanish-American war, I once asked if he’d ever been to war. He replied, “I was too young for WWI and too old for WWII.” In my genealogy records is a copy of his WWI registration card: two months before the war ended, he’d left farm chores long enough to go enlist, which required an older brother’s signature. 

There are so many questions I wish I could still ask. I don’t know how much Granddaddy would’ve shared. He was a quiet man. By the time I was 12, he’d had 2 strokes, was bedridden and didn’t speak. But I always knew he loved me. A photo of 3 year old me points excitedly as he rounded the corner in the company truck. He shared his favorite coconut covered marshmallow cookies and Orange Crush, in the brown bottle, with me. And if you were a quiet child during those Sunday rides (to get Grandma out of the house), there was an ice cream cone from the drugstore in your future.

I inadvertently learned more about Granddaddy when cleaning out my aunt’s house when she went to a nursing home. I found a stack of cards/love letters to Grandma. For a quiet guy, he had a way with words. There was a photo of him with his prize possession: a model T Ford. For a kid coming from a horse & buggy generation, that car must’ve seemed like a miracle. I have a piece of that miracle on my mantel: Granddaddy’s small bronze lighter, in the shape of a miniature Model T.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Nurturing the Spark

It happens every year.  I don't even know when it began, but I have an internal tradition each New Year's Eve that I can't shake or outgrow.  Maybe I just don't want to, no matter how silly it seems later on.

Every year as I stare at that ball in Times Square (which has gotten uglier over time), I feel this inner...tingle.  That countdown from 10 to 1, turns the tingle of anticipation into a spark filled with the childhood excitement of Christmas, Birthdays, End of School and Beginning of Summer, all rolled into one. This year I finally figured it out.

That spark within is my moment of hope.

A hope that THIS year will be different in ways which count.  To be kinder.  To smile more and worry less.  To continue the southern girl tradition of putting others first, without guilt from taking time for myself, occasionally. To still believe that it's not too late for the world to get it's act together before Mother Nature puts us in a Time Out of never ending misery, be that cold, wet or burning.

Tomorrow, I go back to work.  I've been off for two weeks and when you're the only person where you work, the first day can be overwhelming.  All my senior folks will be shouting that THEY need my undivided attention FIRST.  It's like herding cats while holding catnip.

So rather than dread it, I found this.  And in 2018, I'm gonna embrace it not as a helpful suggestion, but as nurturing hope.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

What IS this stuff?!

Bourbon, who is 16 months old, has just experienced his first snow.  Yes, it's "only" about 3 inches, but it's been awhile since we've seen any.  Nice thing about southern snow is that it's here today, shuts everything down for 24 hours, then it's gone.  But the Boy's reaction to it this morning was hysterical.

First he took off, literally running circles around me.  
I think he was laughing.

Then he started farther away and made a beeline for me.
Glad he has good brakes and I didn't end up in the snow.

Seems he feels the same way about cameras that I do.  What a look!

His conclusion?
Snow tastes like....nothing!
But he kept checking, just in case.