January 29, 2012

Bringing Up Boys who Read

As a former teacher, I heard lots of Moms tell me their sons just didn't like to read. I always enjoyed the challenge of finding that 'just right' book for the reluctant reader. But as a Grammy, I couldn't help but be concerned that maybe this was a 'boy' thing and that MY boys would not like to read either. So it's been a mission of mine to make sure that books are at their fingertips and that there's usually something new or even a golden oldie to enjoy.
Baby Bird reads during a diaper change.
Yeah, it was going to take a while to change this one.
It turns out that my daughters were way ahead of me.  Walk into my grandsons' rooms and you will instantly spy books, books,books. Books left in mid sentence, favorite books by the bed waiting to be read for the umpteenth time, a supply of books in the waiting on the bookshelf...yes, there is no shortage of books. Since before they were born, books have been there as part of their everyday lives.
Mama at Law took PDub to preschool one morning recently, and as she was leaving, she heard him talking and talking. So much so that she turned around to take a peek into his classroom. There was P reading a book. Looking over his shoulder were some of the other little boys listening intently to the story. This makes me not only proud, but hopeful. I believe that my grandsons will grow up always loving books. Yes, they will love playing video games, watching movies, playing outside, and hopefully some art and music in the mix.  But the one constant (besides my love, of course) will be the company of a good book.

"You cannot open a book without learning something."

"You cannot raise a decent boy without books."

January 22, 2012

Going Once...Going Twice...Gone!

I was waiting at the nail salon to get a manicure. Later I would go see Mom who was about an hour away in a nursing facility.  The call came first from Papallama.  "Call the Home.  They called you and want you to call. I think you need to call them."  My heart sank.  Usually, the nurses started their message with "It's not an emergency, but..." When I reached the nurse, she softly said, "I'm afraid Miss Evelyn is gone.  She passed away just a few minutes ago.  She was being fed and when the nurse turned her back to get something, your mom stopped breathing. She called for me, and by the time I got there, Miss Evelyn was gone."

I left the salon, got in my car, and headed straight for the Home.  They had been unable to reach my father and I wanted to get there to be with her.   
When I walked into her room, she was lying there in the bed.
If you've never seen someone who has died, words fail in describing just how still they are.  Yes, she was gone.  I sat by her and wept. 

Going once...

In preparing for her funeral, my sister and I selected some jewelry, a nice jacket Mom had recently bought for a granddaughter's wedding, and we asked that her hairdresser attend to her hair.  But when we went to view her body, it was sad how little it resembled her.  I pulled out some of her lipstick for the funeral attendant to use.  It helped.  But it wasn't her. Then my sister and I realized what was missing.  Her eyes.  That's what we were missing...the sparkle in her eyes.  In fact, my sister said it used to creep her out to see Mom sleeping because her eyes were closed. No doubt about it...Mom was gone...

Going twice...

until you walked into her house.  Mom was a collector of antiques, vintage, kitsch, and it seemed that little that entered her home ever left it.  If you've seen the hoarders on reality TV, I'm afraid my mom would fall into that same category.  It got the better of her.  Rooms were impassable, doors began to close, and she became a prisoner to the stuff. My dad hated it. Called it junk.  He ridiculed her for buying it, and they argued heatedly about it.  But one thing is for certain, it wasn't junk.  It may have been a mess, a cluttered, dusty, heap.  But it was far from junk. My sister and I, who went with Mom on many an antiquing trip, knew about most of the collections, and how meticulously and methodically Mom went about acquiring her treasures.  She would wear a dealer down if it took hours to get what she wanted at the price or trade she wanted.  'No' was not an acceptable answer. 

As I walked through the once forbidden rooms, the strangest thing began to happen.  The anniversary clock she had placed on an old secretary desk would chime at what seemed to be moments when I needed a sign.  Not on the hour or quarter or half even though it was keeping time accurately.  I mentioned it to my sister and she laughed until it began to happen to her.  Even Dad, who we had not told, asked, "Why is that clock chiming now?"

Now Dad is ready to get rid of everything.  Because there is so much, the family finally agreed to hand it over to an auctioneer to pack and sell.  Forty years...gone in one week.

The packers were excited to show us the empty living room that they had not been able to walk into when they first arrived because of all the 'stuff'.  All that remained was the dusty furniture. 

For me, it was like walking into to see Mom on her death bed once more.  Not one sign of her remained. 

The clock sat still...it never chimed again after the movers came in...


January 8, 2012

Active Duty

2012 has started with great jubilation in our family.  On New Year's Day, Baby Bird was christened with friends and family looking on in delight.  When there was applause, he studied us for a second, and then broke out in the sweetest grin. He is going to be an entertainer, for sure.  I loved the homily given by Jaybird's and Mama Cat's friend.  He talked about the importance of names, specifically the name given to Jesus.  He used Baby Bird as an example, too, and it was touching to think about the "original" for whom he and his daddy and grandfather are named.  Consistency, faithfulness, family values...virtues that are being passed on from generation to generation thanks to the examples set by him. 

Then, two days later, Mama at Law and Daddy at Law welcomed PDub's baby brother.  He bounded in at 8 pounds and 7 ounces, ready to take on the world.  PDub and I spent the week together trying to stay on schedule while Mama at Law recuperated at the hospital.  I found a book that PDub loved that is simple but to the point and very helpful for a new brother.  I'm a Big Brother, by Joanna Cole, is the perfect length and comprehension level for a three and half year old.  PDub had to read it at least once every day, and Mama at Law says he now reads it to her. 

I came back to touch base with Papallama and spend a few nights in my own bed, but I will be headed back to spend some time with the Baby P and PDub this week.  While Grammy duty commences, I leave you with the newest pictures I have.  You can be sure that more will follow. 

PDub and Baby P

Baby Bird (who is now sporting his first tooth)
Happy 2012!