Grandfather

Andy and Grandpa My grandfather! (with my little brother)

I recently spent the day visiting my 86 year old grandfather. He told me about his winter in Arizona, his plans for fishing trips and a cruise to Alaska over the summer and the goings on of my little brother. It was a fun, relaxed conversation until we touched on the subject of my grandmother. I mentioned that I had had a dream about her the night before, likely because I knew I was driving up to see him the next day.  In my dream my grandma was younger, probably the age she was when I was a little girl, younger than I am now. She was giving me advise and telling me what not to do and that she was glad I had visited. His eyes darted away, but he told me that sometimes he dreams she is still there in the house with him on nights when he is in a deep sleep. He seemed a bit sad and changed the subject, but it was a lovely little glimpse behind the man that is always so stoic.

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Grandma and Grandpa Land in Hawaii!

We also talked about some of the trips he had taken with grandma. One trip was on a rickety train from Arizona to some resort in Mexico where the train was so rocky and the tracks so poorly maintained that the train rocked and rolled, you had to wear seat belts in the beds and you couldn’t even walk from one train car to another because it was just too dangerous. He also told me about trips to Hawaii in the good old days where you could golf all week for a $100 and all their friends came over with tee-times every day, evening cocktail hours and days spent at the beach.

He told me about some of the work he had done as a young man, advise he was given by his bosses. He told me about his first car, a model T that he suped-up with a new engine that made it go so fast that if you turned the corner too quickly the wheels would come off.

He fixed lunch for me; homemade clam chowder and a tuna sandwich with red velvet cake for dessert. Grandpa is a wonderful cook, his clam chowder and oyster stew are so good and no one in the world smokes a salmon like him.

I am so thankful for his good health and his positive attitude. I feel lucky for everyday I get to spend with him. It’s sad that I waited this long, but I am trying to ask those questions that are sometimes hard to ask and to talk about those things we share even when it can be a difficult conversation.

Have you been waiting to have those conversations?  Are you figuring there will always be tomorrow?

No Breath

He has no breath and he takes it slow,

it frustrates him because he so wants to go.

He’s always played hard and was a ladies man,

his charms are not gone, someday he’ll understand.

 

He packs his air and works to breathe,

So young of heart he still wants to speed.

For one “born ready” this is a bitter pill,

these golden years suck and are going to take some skill.

 

Change has come to the one I love,

he’s out of breath and his lungs are done.

The virile man he fears has gone,

but I assure him he is very, very wrong.

 

Sometimes he fears this breath will be his last,

those player days are catching up from his checkered past.

It worries him that he might hear death,

still he says “fuck you” and catches his breath.

 

He’s watched the others who’ve gone before,

he’s seen the future and the prognosis can be poor.

Enjoy this day, its a gift to you

Waste it away at your own peril,  fool.

The Fear Effect

Fear is a familiar friend,

it sucks my life without end.

Fear of what I don’t always know,

it’s always there, a common foe.

 

As I write these words I have my doubts.

Don’t write, it’s crap. Will fear win out?

Is fear my excuse or why I fail

or why I don’t make the attempt and chase my tail?

 

Everyone gets scared at times, of this I’m fairly certain,

but the ones who win the game are those who show fear a hurtin!

 

Awhile back I wrote a post about my Nagging Omission with my husband. Well recently I pulled off that bandage, faced my fear and went all in with a quick rip. First I showed my blog to my husband, letting him read several of the stories. And then I emailed most of my family about my writing and gave them a link to my site.

The good news is my world did not crash in, my husband didn’t ask for a divorce and now knows I do not have an internet lover. I haven’t had any irate calls from family or friends, yet. My husband has shown a tentative curiosity about what I’ve been writing and said he admired my ability to express myself and tell a story, but at first didn’t realize that my blog was open to anyone to see. That part I don’t think he is completely comfortable with and has some fears of his own that we will have to work through.

The only other person to comment about my blog has been my dad(technically my step-dad to those who read my blog and are confused) and he commented on a few of the posts and recited a couple of the poems he has written that are very good. He has one about fishing that is amazing and he has sold some copies of it, but he recited two others I didn’t remember. Maybe we will write a father-daughter poetry book some day.

But now that my husband and my family are aware of this blog and some of my writing; I find that a different type of fear is at work now; I am self-censoring and self-conscience about what I am writing.  Because if there are any people I “people-please” for its these people.  This is going to be tough!

Do you share your writing with your friends and family? Is there anything you keep just for your self for just this reason?

 

Self Criticism and Some Instructions on Life

I recently started reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and coincidentally one of my favorite blogs, BrainPickings posted an article, The Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters: Anne Lamott on Priorities and How We Keep Ourselves Small by People-Pleasing. The article calls out items from the book and some commentary from Ms. Lamott’s Facebook page.

What makes Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (public library) so timelessly rewarding and one of the greatest books on writing of all time is that besides her wisdom on the craft, Lamott extends enormous sensitivity to and consolation for the general pathologies of the human condition — our insecurities, our social anxieties, our inner turmoils. Among her most powerful and memorable meditations in the book is that on how our perfectionism kills the creative spirit — something she revisited recently in a short essay on her Facebook page, spurred by a surge in negative comments and vicious troll attacks.

I just finished reading the chapter on “Perfectionism” and I certainly recognized my self as I read those pages. My perfectionism has kept me from doing and trying so many things in my life; if I don’t think I can do something well or know how it works ahead of time I just don’t attempt it. I hate that about myself and want to jump in and try things that I never have and experience things that I have been too driven by the perfectionist tendencies; worrying about making mistakes, failing, looking foolish and so on, to get out there and just do them.

And another quote the article pulled from Ms. Lamott’s Facebook Page really struck this people pleaser.

 “Do you mind even a little that you are still addicted to people-pleasing, and are still putting everyone else’s needs and laundry and career ahead of your creative, spiritual life? Giving all your life force away, to “help” and impress. Well, your help is not helpful, and falls short.

People pleasing and perfectionism go hand-in-hand and I know began at an early age for me. As the first-born your every moment is watched, recorded, critiqued, praised or scorned and corrected.  There is a little note in my baby book (see below) written by my mother that I came across awhile ago and this illustrates nicely how early my perfectionism and self criticisms started.

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Self criticism started early.

Since my mother’s last entry in the book was around age three or just when I turned 4 after my brother was born; this “amusing saying” likely occurred around age 3. I spilled my coffee and milk (more on why my mother was giving a three-year old coffee in another post) and said to my self; “Christ sakes Shari” (more salty language). And I have certainly improved over the last 40 years, never really giving myself a break on anything.

I am going to get that “shitty first draft written“, keep writing and posting here and not let those voices in my head that are telling me I’m not good enough win.

I plan on releasing my copy of “Bird by Bird” on BookCrossing when I am finished, because I’m sure there is another aspiring writer or perfectionist that could use the help.

Do you suffer from perfectionist tendencies?

 

 

The Unchosen Companions

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Fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers,

the unchosen companions not available to others.

Love and laughter, disappointment and tears,

still driving you nuts after all these years.

 

They know us at our worst and at our best,

and so often put our patience to the test.

Sometimes we hate, yell and can’t relate,

and always regret that wretched date.

 

The for better or worse choice was mine,

still it came with a judgment and a diatribe.

We all can get lost in lovers, jobs and friends,

but with luck and love they will be there at the end.

 

Shared memories and momentous fights,

often taken for granted and at times a blight.

Affections tested and a trust that can not abate,

a bond that if not tended sometimes breaks.

 

Quickly forgiven, but never forgotten,

we gode and complain and sometimes are rotten.

We defend with a vengeance and chide and deride,

those unchosen companions on lifes crazy ride.

 

A Wasted Day, What Can I Say

A wasted day, what can I say,

to be productive was not my way.

A rest, a stop, a nap, a talk,

a glance at the clock, but no where to walk.

 

A wasted day, what can I say,

with no energy, no not even to play.

A drift to the kitchen for a cup of tea

and a glance out the window to see.

 

A wasted day, what can I say,

I’m ready to go, but just want to stay.

Up, then down, and around and around,

to and fro and no where to go.

 

A wasted day, what can I say,

I am feeling so sad, but wish to be gay.

A sigh, a slump and a shrug,

but still there’s no one to hug.

 

A wasted day, what can I say,

my mood it just can’t be swayed.

But if I’m lucky, tomorrow will come

and my wasted day will be all done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I Wish I Had Asked My Grandmothers

232323232fp-94>nu=3369>734>3;9>245-7344--248ot1lsi  My Grandma Buddy and Great-Grandma Kate with Mom and me around 1967.

I was lucky enough to have 4 amazing women in my life, both of my parents mothers and two of my parents grandmothers(besides my mother of course) that helped make me the woman I am today. I learned many things from each of the women;

From my great-grandmother Kate (my mother’s grandmother) I gained an appreciation for music and dancing from watching hours of the Lawrence Welk show with her in her big white leather recliner. My first memory of being empathetic to someone comes from her as well. I was spending the night with her and she was up on the end of the bed coughing, I got up and put my bathrobe around her shoulders and patted her back. I was maybe 4 at the time.

From my great-grandmother Anne (my dads grandmother) who I unfortunately knew for the shortest period of time I gained a love of shortbread cookies, admiration for hard work(she worked in our families plumbing business until well into her 80’s) and a giggle inside whenever I hear someone refer to a child as a wee one, because she always laughed and smiled when her wee ones visited her at her home or in later years in the rest home.

From my grandmother Jean (my dad’s mom), who was one of the most elegant and beautiful women I have ever met; I learned to play chinese checkers, love green peppers and received my first bottle of perfume(Charlie by Revlon).

From my grandmother Buddy (my mom’s mom) who I was so lucky to have in my life the longest I learned; to play Gin Rummy and Cribbage, to pour a drink, to make potato salad and love blue cheese. I flew on my first airplane with her and my rode on my first train. She helped me with my golf game, worried about my love life and always rode my ass about things I was doing wrong.

I really wish I could ask them so many questions, but here are ten I would love ask:

1.) What brought you the most joy in life?

2.) Who was the love of your life?

3.) What regrets do you have if any?

4.) When and where were you the happiest?

5.) What did you enjoy most and least about your occupations? (All of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers had jobs outside the home at one time or another)

6.) What advice would you give me now to live a happier and fuller life?

7.) What would you tell me to quit worrying about?

8.) Who was your first boyfriend, your first lover, your first kiss?

9.) How do you make this dish? (each of them had a specialty and unfortunately I only have a couple of the recipes)

10.) What part of you do you see in me?

If you have special people in your life, ask the questions now don’t wait until it’s too late.

If you have lost someone special in your life, are there questions you wish you had asked?