What Keeps You Together?

I will have more to say on the subject of love and loss soon, but in the mean time I wanted to re-share one of my husbands favorite stories on Random and Rhyme.

Random & Rhyme

Carmen-de-Lavallade-and-Geoffrey-Holder Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade (Picture from http://discoverblackheritage.com)

I was filled with both sadness and happiness while listening to the story of Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade with Elizabeth Blair on NPR this week and hearing about their 59 years of love, partnership and marriage. You might remember him from the Roger Moore, James Bond days playing the villain in “Live and Let Die” or 80’s 7UP commercials and she has been a dancer for most of her life, dancing with Alvin Ailey, the Metropolitan Opera and on Broadway.

Mr. Holder passed away earlier this month on October 5th. He was 84 years old. Ms. de Lavallade spoke to Ms. Blair about going on with the show, she has a one-woman event at the Kennedy Center called “As I Remember It” where she is dancing and reminiscing about her life and a little bit about…

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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.

232323232fp7344->nu=-656>738>258>WSNRCG=34665-8975349nu0mrj

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.

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?

 

Are You Afflicted With Smart-Ass? I am!

IMG_0672  Hello. My Name is Shari and I’m a Smart-ass!

Do you ever beat yourself up for things you have said or done? I do, all of the time. It’s usually because of a smart ass comment I’ve made in a meeting that I meant to be funny and people did laugh. But then, afterward, I worry, was someone offended? When the joke isn’t at my own expense, I hope I picked a target with a sense of humor and a willingness to play along. But still, sometimes it nags at me and I feel like I should track the person down and apologize.

I am a smart-ass from way back. I think, quite possibly, I came out of the womb with a raised eyebrow at my mother asking what took her so long. When I came out of my shell, in junior highschool, I might have been considered one of the class clowns; always popping off with something to get a laugh or reaction.

I also constantly use humor, self-depreciation or a silly comment to try to deflect from a difficult situation or when conflict arises between other people or when god-forbid someone gives me a compliment. I think it stems from spending my formative years in a house with a lot of conflict, with parents that spelled swear words at each other. I’m not sure if their thinking was that it would protect my vocabulary because they spelled out F-U-C-K-E-R at each other rather than said the word. But, fucker is actually one of the first words I learned to spell. I spelled it out for my grandpa’s neighbor, Mr. Fox, he was not impressed. I was immediately marched home and exposed. My grandmother laughed when he told her what I was spelling and I was told to go outside and play.

An environmental impact from my youth that continues to afflict me today!

Are you afflicted with anything?

 

 

 

Changes

The changes to places, I don’t really mind.

But the changes to faces, oh I really do mind.

Lost are the theater, the restaurant and the park,

but not those who’ve touched my heart.

 

Faces change with lines and crinkles,

everyone faces the inevitable wrinkle.

But the soul of youth remains,

no matter how many things change.

 

Our bodies pop, creak and slow down,

some mornings are sore to the bone.

My mind says young, but my back says old,

never more than when I’m on my own.

 

The playgrounds of youth are a subdivision,

the grade school unrecognizable with my vision.

But the friends who’ve known me at my worst,

are still the friends who love me without derision.

 

Yes, the changes to places are fine,

but the changes to faces are so unkind.

To those I’ve lost or who’ve left me behind,

you’ll always live on in love in my mind.

 

 

Mom

232323232fp93232>uqcshlukaxroqdfv-984=ot>278<=-53=73<=369;-5364;339nu0mrj  Mother’s Day

Someone recently asked me what my mom was like; I stammered and smiled and said she was great, but I was caught a bit off guard.

What is my mom like… smart, pretty, a great business woman, a good mother, grandmother, etc. But what is she really like. I have no idea.

I think she is strong, independent, hard working, generally honest unless she would hurt someones feelings, but even then she does not always hold back. Her friends seem to like her, her customers seem to love her, her staff keep working for her year after year so she is a good boss.

But still, I get the feeling that my mom would like to have a different kind of life, but has gone with the cards she was dealt.

She also seems to be a person that plays things pretty close to the vest, well unless she’s had a glass of wine, then maybe a bit of the protective armor comes off and you see more of the loving, soft center. I recognize that in myself, I am pretty self contained and tend to hold my personal feelings to myself, really only revealing the true me on rare occasions with a rare few.

My mother is the one who can hurt my feelings easier than anyone and I think many times doesn’t even realize she has done it. Other times, maybe she is thinking she is being honest for my own good, but is not really helping me. Just making me feel shitty.

But, its a cycle, my grandfather seems to be able to do the same thing to her. We always want to please the ones we love and respect the most. But, I think we find it easier to remember the one bad thing that was said to us, rather than the 100 nice things. Or at least I do.

I know I’m lucky to have the mother I have, so many people have no parent at all or the parent they do have in their lives doesn’t want to be a parent, is incapable of being a parent or is just a horrible person with too many problems of their own to help the person they brought into the world.

So, on Mother’s Day, I say: I love you mom for being a great role-model, a parent that helped me learn to be the person I am today and I hope our relationship continues to grow.

What is your mother like?