Posts Tagged With: memories

our revels now are ended

My precious husband has joined me in the least cool club on the planet.
The Orphan Club.
We are adult children with no living parents.
Please send him healing love.

YBW’s darling mother died quietly in her sleep Wednesday afternoon. She was 87 and lived a life full of love and joy. In her last few years, she suffered with CHF (congestive heart failure) and her health declined rapidly in the last six weeks.

Today we went about dealing with the business of death. YBW, his brother and his wife, and I met with the funeral director and cemetery personnel. I used my mad organizational and list making skills to plan and coordinate. It’s my way of being helpful.

Tomorrow is YBW’s birthday.
We’re keeping our plans for dinner with friends in the evening, and celebrating with his boys Saturday afternoon. He deserves to be celebrated in the midst of our grief.

He is brave and strong, even though he doesn’t feel like he is. I watch him. I see what he experiences written on his face, in his body language. He is exhausted. He is anxious. But he is grounded in the love of friends and family. And he is grounded by me.

Our family is feeling quiet in our grief, but the love coming at us is truly overwhelming in the most beautiful way.

I am reminded of Prospero’s words in The Tempest:

You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
Yes, indeed.

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Categories: love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

remembrance of snow days past

Yesterday’s snow day got me thinking about all the snow days I’ve had the joy to live through.
From snow days with my girls to snow days when I was a girl.
Curiously, the memory that took my breath away was of a snow day in 1979.
I was seven years old in February, my eighth birthday would come in May. A crazy storm came out of nowhere and buried the DC Metro area in over two feet of snow.

President’s Day Storm 1979
photo copyright: Washington Post

This was a bomb cyclone storm too, (Though I think it was before that phrase was in the common lexicon.).
This storm was of great significance, mostly because everyone was caught off guard. It also directly impacted the way meteorologists predict storms.

But for this particular little red-haired girl, who dug tunnels to access an elaborate system of housing (caves) in her yard, drank her body weight in hot chocolate, and impatiently waited for her gloves to dry before she could go back out to play again, the President’s Day Storm had a different kind of significance.
It’s the first time I can recall actively panicking.
Because the storm hit us out of the blue, after a couple of days, we ran out of important things. You know…milk and bread, and the like.


My mother decided to walk the .6 miles (uphill) to our local Safeway to get what we needed. As you can see, according to Google Maps it’s about a 12 minute walk from home to the grocery store. I figure that was pretty much the same 38 years ago as it is now. House is in the same place…even the same Safeway.

Now, in hindsight, I wonder if she wasn’t just trying to get out of the house and away from us kids and Grandaddy. Since there’s no one left to ask, I guess we’ll never know.

I’ve only recently come to understand my childhood of being a “mommy’s girl” that didn’t feel comforted by her mommy was directly linked to my attachment anxiety. That I clung to my mother in desperate desire to feel connected to her, even though I very rarely did.

When I started my little jaunt down memory lane of snow days, I first visited the amazing tunnels and caves my brother and I built. Saw the snow packed down from flipping ‘skin the cat(s)’ about seven hundred thousand times off the big strong limb of the maple tree. And actually, if I think about it, that may have been how we decided to created the cave and tunnel system.
But then as I jumped over the fence (couldn’t open the gate for all that snow) to visit the forts we carved out of the snow against the fence, I felt my eyes drawn towards the church at the end of our street.
I actively watched up the street for what seemed like hours in a panic waiting for my mother to come home.

I am actively feeling that panic in the pit of my stomach as keenly now as I did at that snowy day.

Of course I have no idea how long my mother was actually gone, how long I stood there anxiously awaiting her return. What felt like hours could have been a much shorter amount of time. I honestly don’t know. I haven’t consciously thought about that day and the way I felt in ages.

What I do know is that when I finally saw my mother turn the corner onto our street, grocery bags strapped to the sled she pulled behind her, I was flooded with the greatest relief I’d ever know.
I ran up the street towards here, crying and gasping for breath.
The look on her face stopped me in my tracks, snowy mittens immediately wiping my face before she noticed my tears. But it was too late. She’d seen them, and had not patience for them.
She said, “What’s the matter with you?” in a tone laced with such disgust it was almost a physical blow.
“I was worried about you. I didn’t know when you were going to come home. I didn’t know if you were safe.”
She shook her head and moved passed me, “Of course I’m safe. Don’t be so dramatic.”

I stood in the street watching her walk away from me. In that moment I felt so small and so terribly stupid. Of course she was safe. She was the mommy. Mommies are strong and capable. I was stupid to worry about her. I was too dramatic with my tears and panic.

I’ve never shared this story before.
Honestly, I haven’t thought about in…well, probably ever. But that’s the memory upon which I landed when I started thinking about snow days.
Not the fun we had as kids.
Not the fun we had as adults with our own kids.
Not the sledding, the snowmen, the bonfires.
Not the snow cream, the snow angels, the hot chocolate.

But I did have fun snow days as a kid.
With a frozen nose and shrieking laughter.
With snowball fights at the church yard and sledding at the park.
Snuggled up with my kitties under colorful ‘afgans’ in cozy jammies and stacks of books.

And I did have fun snow days as an adult.
Witnessing the girls in the snow for the first time.
Bundling everyone up for very quick trips to play.
Taking their photos with the some of the most fun snowmen you’ve ever seen.
Making snow cream.
Making hot chocolate by the potful.

I don’t honestly know if more of my memories are happy than sad. But I do know I go through the happy ones more frequently. I do know that this particular sad one was buried as deep as the snow from that long ago winter.
As far as I’m concerned, snow days are always a good thing!
Our county schools called off Friday just before 5 pm Thursday afternoon. So that means another snow day today!
Even though there really isn’t any snow, I’m still happy!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

the gift of memories

Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death and it’s got me thinking about a lifetime of memories. I’ve written about my complicated relationship with my mother in missing Mommie, but today I’m not thinking about the unanswered questions.
Today I am simply remembering her. Remembering specific moments with her. Sometimes I feel like I’ve done her a disservice by talking about my conflicts with her, with my feelings about her, and not talking about the memories. Because even though the conflicts were many, the memories are too.

Fox in Socks is my all time favorite Dr Seuss book because of her. I was either in kindergarten or first grade, my brother was three or four. She sat with us to read this book, got tongue twisted beyond our imaginations and we laughed until we were collapsed in a heap in the floor.
She never read it again, but laughed about that moment for the rest of her life.

I learned to love Elvis because of her. She would play records and we would dance and sing until we were worn slap out. These moments were rare, seeing her be joyful simply for the fun of it. She never let herself go, always kept a tight reign on her emotions. Even then these little moments were sacred to me, I understood without really knowing how precious they were.

She never read us bedtime stories, she didn’t like to read aloud. Instead she would often use dolls or action figures to tell us stories at bedtime. My brother would scoot into my bed ready for the story. Sometimes she used my brother’s Weebles, or our Fischer Price people to tell the stories. But my favorite stories always starred I our bendy Evel Knievel and Derry Daring figures.
evel knievelderry daring
(Is it just me or were toys cooler in the 1970s than they are today?)

I would become distraught (I am in no way exaggerating.) when Grandaddy would get on an airplane to go on a trip. I would stand at the gate waving at him through the window until the plane took off and then I would completely loose my mind. I was all tears and hyperventilation and the way she had decided to console me was to take me to Toys R Us for a color book and new box of crayons. And even as an adult, I would receive a new box of crayons and a color book any time there was something serious going on. When I went to have my hysterectomy I got the big box of 64 and five brand new color books. She wanted to make sure I enough to keep me occupied.

After I was already married but before Thing 1 came along, she and I went on a road trip and documented it with video. I laughed more with her in the car those four days than I can even believe! We were positively punchy but it all made sense. I don’t know what ever happened to that old vhs tape, I wish I had it though. It would be fun to laugh with her again.

My memories of my mom are a gift. All the memories, the good ones and the complicated ones. I’m lucky to have them. I was lucky to have her. I’m not sure if I told her that. I know she knew because moms just know those things, but it might have been nice to say it out loud.

Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

what the praline started

This morning one of the little students in the other two year old class brought me a praline from New Orleans. How kind of her family to think of me, she was very excited to make sure I got it. Precious!

I realized two things when I ate it after lunch…
The first is: it isn’t as yummy as the ones they make on Market Street in Charleston.
The second is: I miss Charleston… which makes me miss my beloved sister in law and her family, and my dearest friend and mentor.

Charleston is a place I dearly love…mostly because of the time I’ve spent there with people I love…

Thank you, little student for the (not delicious) praline and the wonderful memories it stirred up. I’m smiling about all my wonderful Charleston adventures, and a little bit of extra loving the people I love who live there.

Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(love can be both) right-way-round and upside down

I taught a lesson plan earlier this week from a book called ‘Henry and Amy (right-way-round and upside down)’.

henry and amy

This is a book about friendship, specifically a friendship of opposites attracting and helping each other see the beauty of right-way-round as well as upside down.
I used this book in my month-long lesson plan revolving around manners, friendship, and being helpful. We’ve been discussing “good manners”, you know, please and thank you and as one of my precious friends points out, I’m sorry. I’m not as big a fan of I’m sorry…but I’m working with what I’ve got.
We’ve also been discussing helpful hands and feet…did you know helpful hands hold doors for friends or helpful feet don’t kick books?
My little friends do! It’s been a fun and interesting process and I think they’re finally starting to really understand because our director held the door for us this afternoon as we went outside to the playground and one friend said, “Look! Miss Brynn has helpful hands!” And then I heard a chorus of “thank you(s)” even from one little dude who was so busy thanking her he walked into the doorjamb.

‘Henry and Amy’ was one of Thing 2’s favorite books when she was a little girl, she and I would read it over and over with hugs and giggles.
Oh how I wanted to call her when I got home to tell her all about it…but I didn’t.
I’m being respectful of her feelings. I’m acting upon her request.
Golly it was hard. I wanted to share that day with her in ways I don’t even yet understand and I honestly believe she would have loved it.

But here’s the thing: it didn’t hurt.
Yes I was sad, but the memories of Thing 2 and ‘Henry and Amy’ were happy. They moved me into my higher brain…where I was safe and happily swimming around in memories of my sweet little girl.

It was a great day!
It was a great lesson plan.
The activity that followed reading the book and our discussion was spectacular, and when we met again to read the book after the project was finished, my little friends were invested in ‘Henry and Amy’ and they’re beginning to understand the value of helpful friends.

And one day…one day…when she’s ready, I will be happy to share the experience of this day with Thing 2.

Categories: education, love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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