You Know You’re Getting Old When…


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When you go to a funeral and take notes, that’s a sign that you’re on the downhill slope. Open casket? Um,no. Big gathering with food and songs? Yes, please!

When you look at your puppy and wonder if you’ll have time for another one. That’s a sign, too.

If you turn on a major news channel and the financial expert looks like he’s in fifth grade, you’re old.

You can also tell that you’re getting on in years when you wake up with sore legs and aching butt muscles because last night you danced to (count ’em) two songs at your brother’s birthday party.

When you realize that it’s worth the wait for an entire year just to get to the two weeks of lilac blossoms, you’ve gained the wisdom of age.

And if you plant a baby spruce tree, just a tiny sprout, and hope that someday someone will call it “majestic”, you know that you’re getting older.

When you suddenly move your tongue around to the place where they pulled out your bottom molar years ago, and you instantly understand the meaning of the idiom “long in the tooth,” that means you’re getting on.

And finally, if you look at the newspaper and the arts pages are filled with kids whose names you don’t recognize, you’re officially old.

Come to think of it, if you look at an actual newspaper, the kind that gets dropped on your doorstep, the kind that you fold and read with your morning coffee…well. If you do that, read a newspaper made of actual paper?

You guessed it, you’re old.

What did I leave out?

When You’re Two, Everything Is Fun


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Ah, life with a toddler.

It’s glorious, wonderful, enlightening, hilarious, joyful.

It’s also something better suited to young parents than it is to aging Nonni types. Which isn’t to say that I’m complaining, OK?

I’m just….sharing. That’s all.

Today I picked Ellie up a little later than usual. I knew that her Mommy had gone to work early, and that she’d spent the morning with Dad.

What I didn’t know was that she’d only been awake for a few minutes when I got her. I was struck by the fact that her hair looked like a cross between a bowl of rotini and a bird nest, and that she wasn’t wearing shoes.

At my request, her Dad ran back inside and grabbed her sandals, and off we went. I wanted to grocery shop before we went home, because the weather was forecast to be in the mid 90’s. We needed to get home and fill her little pool before the worst of the heat hit us.

So. I stopped inside the grocery store and brushed out the curls and tangles, placing a little pony tail on one side of her head to keep her eyes visible. Her hair is a miracle of beauty and stubbornness, and I’m obsessed with it.

Then we shopped, and as we did, my tiny girl ate slices of turkey, ham and cheese, pea pods and string cheese. I bought some new toddler cups and a bottle of water, and she sucked down some liquid to counteract her salt.

And home we went, where I raced around my steamy house trying to put away groceries. My tiny girl ate some blueberries and yogurt. Her face and hair showed them both beautifully.

At last, we were ready to head out into the beautiful summery day. First, though, we had to sunscreen from head to toe, spray on safe organic bug spray, put on the sunhat and tighten it under the chin, grab the toys, (no, no, One Eyed Elmo can’t swim), put the dogs inside the fence, and get some water.

I blew up the pool, and filled it with water from the hose. The hose that is attached to the sprinkler. Attached so tight that Nonni almost burst a blood vessel trying to get it off.

Its on there that tightly because Papa really loves his strawberry patch and he wants it watered.

Baby pool, be damned.

So by the time the tiny blow up pool was filled with ice cold water, Nonni was soaked to the skin from the wonderful, back and forth sprinkler.

For one glorious hour, we splashed, we jumped in the pool, we shivered, we ran around on the grass. Finally it was lunch time, and Nonni pulled out one of her patented grandmother tricks.

“Ellie! Let’s go inside for an ice cream cone!”

Come on. I figured that at 22 pounds, she’d already consumed enough healthy calories for the day. So in we went, and I stripped off her wet clothes, leaving her in her bug sprayed, sunscreened, sweat soaked skin. I put her in her highchair and filled a cone with two big scoops of peanut butter cup ice cream. (Protein. I swear.)

After I had cleaned myself up and done a couple of quick chores, I joined Ellie at the table. I had a leftover cheeseburger in front of me.

“Mmmm!” My baby girl said, reaching out. “mmmm, beef!” So we shared. And her hair, slicked back with oily sunscreen and dead bugs, now got a lovely coating of ketchup.

At last she was full, and I scooped her up and dropped her into a warm, bubble filled tub. She had a nice, thorough shampoo, and lots of lather to make sure no ticks were hiding in any dark places.

We settled into the living room, in front of the fans, with her golden skin so clean and shining, and her glorious curls smooth and completely pristine.

“Ahhhhhh,” Nonni thought, “I do such a good job of taking care of this girl. ”

I checked my email while Ellie watched an episode of “Elmo’s World”. Elmo was learning about potty training, so I felt particularly smart and accomplished as a day care provider.

But if you’ve ever seen Elmo, you’ll know that he has a goofy sidekick named, “Mr. Noodle.” This hapless guy appeared on my TV, and Ellie’s eyes lit up.

And you guessed it.

“Noodles?” She asked, her bright dark eyes alive with hunger. “Noodles? Ellie? Eat?”

So.

I did what any self-respecting Nonni would do. I made her a bowl of noodles. Wagon wheels, in fact. I put in some peas and a big blob of butter. And back in the high chair she went, smooth skin, diaper on, clean, clean hair.

Until I went into the kitchen to wash dishes.

And came back two minutes later to see Ellie, eyes closed in apparent ecstasy. Saying, “mmmmmmmm” as she rubbed her two hands through her glorious curly hair. Hands filled with noodles, peas and butter.

She gave herself a pasta and butter shampoo.

I think a squeak of despair may have come out of my mouth. Or maybe a little, tiny, whispered curse.

Or something.

Anyway.

I picked her up, washed her with a face cloth, and dragged a brush through the excessively buttered hair.

“I’m giving you back to Mommy soon,” I said, as I laid a towel under her head before naptime.

Really. I’m having fun and all, but this is definitely a job for a younger woman.

 

Rompers, Uncles, Memories


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What an interesting, emotional time of life is middle age.

I’m finding so much joy in the smallest things. Watching Ellie sleep. Rubbing my puppy’s little belly. Eating olives and cheese with my Momma.

I’m finding so much sadness in the speed of life and how it changes. I miss my old profession, and I miss my teaching friends. Those supportive relationships meant more to me than I even knew.

And death is a more common part of my life than it once was . Losing my father, my grandparents, beloved aunts, uncles, in-laws.

But it also strikes me that one of the strangest parts of being this age is how the happy and the sad keep bumping into each other.

I have a story from today that shows that confluence of feelings. It shows how circular life is, and how nothing seems to ever really go away.

Today I opened a package of clothes I had ordered last week for my granddaughter, Ellie. It contained summer things, including the adorable little romper in the picture above. I had been planning to buy her some shorts and t-shirts, but her Mom told me that those cute one-piece rompers are popular now, so I ordered some.

And my first thought as I pulled the clothes out of the package was that my baby sister Liz and I used to wear those back in about 1960. I immediately pictured a matching pair of rompers, one pink and one blue. I remembered, more than five decades after wearing mine, how it felt with elastic gathering the material around my middle.

I also thought right away about my two Uncles, Bob and Joe. When we were little kids, and our parents were in their thirties, our Uncles were only in their teens or early twenties. They often baby sat for Liz and I and our older brother, Ed.

We were in awe of them.

We called them “Bobby and Joey” and to us they were an amazing mix of grown up and super fun. They always made us laugh. They usually gave in if we asked for something, like a cookie or a popsicle from the ice cream man.

They seemed to think we were amazing and fun, too, which made them seem like not-quite-serious adults.

One of my memories, so clear in my mind no doubt because it was traumatic, was a hot summer morning when Bobby and Joey were getting us dressed for the day. I think we were planning to go to the local playground, but I’m not sure.

I remember being excited, and I remember that I put my romper suit on. I was hoping that one of the big kid/grown ups could manage to put our hair into pony tails.

Suddenly, Uncle Joey said something that sounded alarming. It might have been, “What’s the matter?” or “What did you do?” I looked up from zipping my blue suit.

Uncle Bobby was kneeling in front of my baby sister, who was probably about two years old. She was standing perfectly still, but tears were pouring down her cheeks. Bobby and Joey both looked slightly panicked.

I remember one of them slowly unzipping Liz’s pink romper. And I remember the red line running down her skin.

She’d been caught in the zipper. Poor little kid!

I remember a whole bunch of reactions running through my four year old brain.

These two guys were definitely NOT real grown ups! And wasn’t it sweet to see how bad they both felt and how they cuddled Lizzy to make her feel better. It was funny to hear them kind of blaming each other, too. Like kids!

And, boy oh boy, this little problem better not stop us from going to the playground.

Today I smiled as I picked up Ellie’s little romper. I lifted it to my cheek to feel how smooth and soft it is. I thought about Ellie’s Uncles, Matt and Tim. My boys. How much they love her and how they play with her.

I hope that she grows up with memories of her time with them. I hope that they inspire her, as Bobby did when he refused to give up on his dream of becoming a doctor. I hope they make her laugh years after a great joke, like Joey did with me.

I hope.

We lost my funny, kind, smart, tender Uncle Bobby this morning. Right about the time I was unwrapping Ellie’s little summer outfit.

I’m definitely going to take her to the playground in it one day soon.

Oh, and I made sure that I didn’t order one with a zipper. I know my own limitations!

Thanks, Uncle Bobby. For the laughs, the love, the tender care. Sempre La Famiglia.

 

First World Problems


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I am such a first world, spoiled, entitled old lady.

Truly.

I should just shut up. I should accept the fact that I am truly privileged. Honestly, I have a great life! My complaints are pointless, self-serving, and unworthy of a progressive, open minded woman like me.

But, jeez.

I mean, like, come on.

See, my husband and I saved up for years to buy a hot tub. The first time we had put away enough money, our furnace keeled over and died. There went the money.

So we saved again, slowly, month by month. Our backs hurt, our shoulders were getting achy, our necks were stiff. We really, really wanted a hot tub…..

At last! We had saved enough! Woohooooo!

Then we realized we needed a new roof.

Sigh. No nice steamy soaks before bed for us.

We saved again.

And then it happened. Do you hear angels singing?  Well, I sure as hell did.

We got our hot tub. It was glorious. It was rejuvenating, hypnotizing, enthralling. It was every multisyllabic word I can find.

I love my hot tub with a devotion that I have previously  shown only to my husband and kids. And on an icy night when I’ve been shoveling, I’m pretty sure I’d pick the hot tub over any of them.

Don’t judge.

I work hard every day. I garden, I shop, I cook, I lift a toddler.  I deserve my nightly soak. Right?

I have had my starlit late night soakie pretty much every single night for seven years. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Then. It happened.

Two weeks ago, we sprung a leak. Oh, the horror!!! We called Hottub Man, and shut off the power.

And we waited. And waited. You see, spring is pool season, and the hot tub/pool company is very, very busy. We called. No call back. We waited. We consoled ourselves with hot showers, but it wasn’t the same.

Let me take a little side trip here, and tell you that poor old Nonni has been pruning bushes and trees, burning brush, dividing perennials, tilling, composting, raking, planting. Which means that Nonni’s back hurts. Her knees hurt. Her big old backside hurts. And her right arm is like one big, giant toothache that will not go away.

This is where my first world, entitled self bursts out and smacks me right in the kisser.

I’ve been good for the past two long, painful, sad, hottubless weeks. I haven’t complained. That much. I have had boo-boos and ouchies, but I haven’t had a tantrum.  Not a real, kicking and screaming tantrum.

I have been a brave, brave Nonni. Dealing silently with my pain. Oh, poor me…

Today, at last, Hottub Man came. I groveled a bit, and he fixed the leak. Angels sang, yet again!  Hot Tub! Oh, glorious, pain relieving hot tub! How I love thee!

But the power has been off for two weeks. So Hottub Man turned it on again, took my check and said bye-bye.

And I have spent the last four hours doing this.

Lift the cover and peek into the hot tub. 68 degrees. Sigh.  Wait.

Peek. 70 degrees.

Wait. Drink wine. Wait. Peek. 76 degrees.

Walk around. Grumble. Eat olives and cheese. Drink more wine. Peek. 80 degrees.

It’s almost 7 pm. At this rate, achy old Nonni will have to stay up until midnight just to soak herself in that glorious water.

Now don’t you feel sorry for me?  I mean, yes. This is most definitely a first world problem. But I have OUCHIES and BOO-BOOS!! And I want my hot tub!!!!

Excuse me. I need to peek.

Shit. 73 degrees.

I’ll be up all night if anyone needs me.

Homesteader Nonni


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You know, I really believe in eating local foods.

I do!

So when I found myself in my local grocery store, looking at $3.99 a pound dandelion greens, I was kind of amazed.

Amazed, as in, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

Now, I grew up in a first generation Italian American family. We ate greens. Lots of greens. Including dandelion greens.

At no time in my life, ever, did anyone pay four bucks for a bunch of weeds.

So I went home from the store. I put away my “not a weed” foods and I had a quiet night.

The next day, though, I was out in my yard. My big, wild, just-one-step-shy-of-a-forest yard. What grass there is was populated by many, MANY dandelions. With big green leaves.

Suddenly, my inner homesteader emerged. My inner old Italian Nonni came out. I grabbed my weeding tool and I pulled up a HUGE bunch of weeds.

Weeds that are no doubt healthy, high in vitamin C and iron, and probably…maybe…delicious.

I was SO proud of my old Nonni self.

“Nonni,” I said to me, “If the grid goes down because of a storm, or a hack by the North Koreans or the Russians or the angry men in Anonymous, I’ll be ready!”

Sure. So, yeah. Not totally ready, but still. Wouldn’t it be so cool if Nonni could feed the family by cooking lawn weeds!

So I brought my big pile of dandelion greens into the kitchen. I was feeling pretty cool as I put them into a colander and started to wash them.  I’m pretty sure I was humming an Italian love song, like “O, Mio Babbino Caro“.

I rinsed the big pile of greens.

Then I saw that there was….ewww….a lot of dirt, clinging to the roots that I pulled out.

OK, no problem, Homesteader Nonni. You just put the whole pile into a pot of cold water, and you pull out each bunch and cut off the roots.

Then I noticed….uuuuuuh……what is that? A pine needle? A giant pile of pine needles?

Do not panic. A pioneer woman like me can pull out the pine needles. One at a time. Even when there are more than 10,000 pine needles.

So two hours after I started to clean my dandelion greens (Local! Organic! Sustainable! Available even in a Zombie apocalypse!), I found myself faced with a big colander filled with mostly dandelion greens.

I kept picking through them.

“CRAP!!!!! Is that a spider????!!!????”

Screeech! Panic! Run!

Come back slowly…peek at the blob with the legs….

Oh, haha!!!

It’s a dandelion bud. With little green spikes around its dandelion head. Cool!

I kept cleaning. I pulled out each skinny, wet, limp leaf. I washed off the dirt. And the pine needles.

Every nice clean piece went into a bowl. All was well….Until.

HOLY SHIT!!!!

THAT’S A SLUG!!!! UGH! EWWWWWWWW!

I dropped the leaf, jumped back 12 feet, turned in a circle, made a series of old Nonni gagging noises…..

A SLUG!

What if I ATE it? What if I cooked it? And didn’t know it and I ate it and it went into my stomach and I got super sick and nobody could figure out what was wrong and I got sicker and sicker and I ended up on “Mystery Diagnosis”and they never did figure it out and I died of eating a SLUG and my family never knew what killed me and I’d never get to see my grandson or watch my sons get married…..

After about 15 minutes and a quick glass of wine, I slowly approached the counter and the weeds delicious dandelion greens. I used a very long chopstick to poke the slug…..

Oh, haha! Look at that! It’s actually just a tiny curled up flower bud!  Silly me…..

Eventually, after several panic attacks and a lot of screeches, I had a clean bowl of dandelion greens.

I had saved myself 4 whole dollars as I single handedly managed a pile of weeds. I put them in a bowl, poured on some olive oil and salt, then I microwaved the bowl.

I sat down to eat my dinner of roasted chicken and fresh dandelion greens.

Gulp.

Sip the wine. Taste the chicken. Take a tiny bite of greens…..

Whoah!

Delicious. Fresh, bitter and sweet, salty, delicious.

And free.

So. If the Zombie apocalypse hits us during the growing season, come on by. I’ll make a wonderful, healthy, slug free dish of dandelion greens.

Just do NOT ask me to deal with fiddlehead ferns.

Ewwwwwww!

 

 

Sometimes You Just Need A Decent Cry


Our Ellie is the calmest, most relaxed toddler ever. She is agreeable, flexible, rarely in a bad mood.

But sometimes she just wakes up from her nap and needs to cry. Nothing is wrong. She isn’t hungry, she isn’t thirsty. She is just plain cranky.

I let her cry. I hold her, we rock, but I don’t talk, I don’t try to distract her or talk her out of it. I let her go. She cries and squirms and pushes my arms away, and cries some more.

Eventually, she is all cried out. We get ourselves a snack, and all is well.

I’m realizing that we all need those moments.

In fact, I need one right now.

See, Ellie spent last night with us, for the first time. It was wonderful. But. Well. She is used to sleeping in bed with her parents, so she slept between Papa and I. I woke up every ten minutes with a head on my belly, a foot up my nose, a hand on my face.

I’m tired. That makes me weepy.

And we spent all day yesterday with our son Matt and his lovely girlfriend Melanie. Working in the yard, breaking up brush and burning it and raking. They did most of the work, but I still did a lot more physical labor than usual. I kind of hurt a lot.

That always makes me weepy.

We thought that Ellie’s parents would be coming over early this morning to have a big breakfast and then take her home. But her Momma, my daughter Kate, didn’t feel great, and wanted to rest up at home.

I spent the day playing with Ellie, cleaning up a bit, pacing, wringing my hands, worrying about my girl and the baby.

Repressed emotion always makes me weepy.

And today is Boston’s annual “Walk For Hunger” put on by Project Bread. People who want to help bring food to the hungry sign up to walk, get donors, then walk a long 20 miles through the beautiful city of Boston.

The first time I did the Walk, my son Matt came with me. He was about 12. I was 47. My parents were in their late 60’s. My sister and her husband walked. I was so proud of myself and of my son.

Mostly, though, I was moved by the deep conversation that my Dad and my boy had as we walked along the Charles River. I’ll never forget walking behind them, and just listening to the back and forth, the wise older voice and the curious young one. Both so familiar and so loved.

I can’t handle the 20 miles anymore, so I wasn’t there. But my sister, Liz, was. She walked, as she has for years. She walked in memory of her husband, Ed, and of our Dad. They were buddies. We miss them both.

I looked at Liz’s pictures on Facebook. I wished I could have been there to walk. For her. With her. For Dad and Ed.

I was so nostalgic. And that always makes me weepy.

I’m going to bed early tonight. I plan to bring my well worn copy of the Lord Of The Rings.  I’ll flip to the end, when the two heroes leave this world to find solace “In the West.”

It invariably makes me sob.

And as Ellie has shown me, sometimes you just really need a good, long, cleansing cry.

So, yeah, Rand Paul…why SHOULD you pay for my pregnancy coverage?


Those Libertarians. They get me every time with their “small government” thinking. They say things that seem to sort of, kind of, make sense.

For example, a lot of people who are leaning Libertarian are asking, “If I’m a single man, why should I have to buy health insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth?”

Seems like a good question at first glance, right? I mean, why in the world should old single Uncle Gus have to pay into the fund that covers these services he will never, ever use?

What if we had an insurance plan that let people like old Uncle Gus opt out of paying for those baby things? Would that be good?

Um.

Well. See, it occurs to me that I will never, under any circumstances, ever get prostate cancer. Can I opt out of paying for that coverage?

Also, I don’t smoke. I’ve never smoked. I want a plan that allows me to not pay for lung cancer coverage.

I’m not into drugs. I refuse to pay for rehab for people addicted to opioids. OK, sure. So I have had more than one close relative and many friends who have had to deal with this. Still. I don’t use. My kids don’t use. Why should I have to pay for that treatment?

Oh, and did I mention that there is no diabetes in my family? I am a careful eater. I have low blood sugar. Why should I have to pay for people with diabetes?

And let’s just for a moment step away from health care, and look at other taxes. Shall we, Rand Paul?

If I don’t own a car, should I really have to pay the taxes that keep the roads paved and plowed? I say, no.

I also live in a town with well water. Why should I pay for clean water for other people in my state? Why should I pay to clean up EPA superfund sites, if I am not sitting on one?

Why?

So. I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why my tax dollars should pay to support my local schools even though my kids are all grown up. I’ll tell you why some of my tax money should go to pay for meal on wheels for my elderly neighbors. And why I should pay for prostate cancer and why you should pay for pregnancy, childbirth and early education.

Because we are a society. We are not hundreds of millions of isolated individuals.

I almost never take the train, but I don’t object to supporting Amtrak. Maybe one day I’ll want to take the train to San Francisco.

Or maybe I won’t but YOU will. You are part of my community. And I want to live in a healthy community. I deserve to live in a community that meets the needs of its members.

And, honey, that means that we ALL chip in to provide the best life for ALL of us.

 

I will never, ever, ever have testicular cancer. But I don’t mind paying for your treatment, if it helps to keep you alive.

 

Because I don’t want to, says the Wolf King


I am, as you all must surely know by now, the Wolf King.

King. As in, most royal of all canines.

Wolf King. As in, mighty and most admired. He who must not be questioned.

I. Am. The. Freakin’. Wolf. King.

And if I decide that the very same stairs I have climbed for the past 12 years are suddenly too steep for me, I expect you to respect that.

If I, in my Kingly wisdom, suddenly notice that the shadows from the light at the top of the stairs makes the hallway look kind of spooky and creepy, you need to honor that observation.

OK. Sure. So I haven’t ever actually seen a scary movie. Still, Man Who Walks Me, I think you should cut me a little slack if I suddenly can NOT get my old bones up those stairs.

You should be calm. You should be patient.

Just because I have to bark once every three seconds for eight straight hours, you don’t have to get huffy.

I know, I know. You have come down the stairs 85 or 90 times to help me up. And I have backed away. Every time. While still woofing. Every three seconds.

Still. You must understand. My royal hindquarters are kinda shaky these days. And I don’t see very well. What looks like the top of the stairs to you looks like an attacking buffalo to me.

I do my best, Man Who Walks Me. I do!

I can’t help it if the sight of you offering me cheese and beef and doggie treats leaves me unmoved.

Those stairs are wicked steep.

I am the Wolf King.

I’m scared.

But, wait? What is that sound?

At last. I hear the sound of Woman Who Feeds Me. She has arisen from the bed. Her hair is in that state of electrified glory that tells me she is not pleased. Her voice sounds stern.

Here she comes, down the long, dark, creepy stairs. She walks to where I stand, my regal head alert.

“Get the hell up the damn stairs,” she growls.

Suddenly, as if by magic. I can see the stairs in front of me. Well, lookit that! Same old stairs I’ve been climbing for my whole Wolf King life!

Thank you, Woman Who Feeds Me! Thank you!

I march calmly, with royal dignity, up the stairs.

Right past Man Who Walks Me.

He just doesn’t have that magic touch.

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What? Those stairs are creepy.

 

I Think I Finally Get It


For years and years, I’ve been hearing the same grandparent joke, over and over.

“The best part of being a grandparent is that you get to spoil them all day and then give ’em back at night!”

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Yeah.

I don’t get it.

I’m not in the regular grandmamma situation, though, so maybe I’m out of touch. But for me the joy and contentment of being with my grandchild is not about the moment I hand her back to her parents.

And it sure isn’t about the idea that I can “spoil” her and make her a brat and then laugh as her parents try to cope with the monster I’ve created.

No.

For me, since the moment I first touched the satiny skin of my first grandchild’s cheek, it has all been about the moments when our grandbabies are with us.

But even though I get to spend every single work day with my Ellie, I still didn’t really understand exactly what I was feeling. And even though I spent the majority of the past two years acting as Ellie’s Nonni, I still couldn’t find the words to describe the depth of my feelings for my grandchild. The firstborn daughter of my first born child.

It wasn’t just the dizzying idea that my baby had produced a baby. And it wasn’t simply the realization that I loved this tiny being with every single molecule of my self.

I couldn’t describe it as the feeling of relief that I honestly experience every day when I look back on my 24 years of raising children. It wasn’t only about the realization when looking back that there really isn’t that much we can do to screw them up completely.

I made about a trillion mistakes, but my three adult offspring are absolutely wonderful people. So, see? As a mere Nonni, I didn’t have to worry that much about my every move.

No.

None of those thoughts summed up the feeling of peace and calm and contentment that I am getting as the full time Nanny/Nonni for my very own flesh and blood grandchild.

But after I dropped Ellie off at home today, I listened to a piece on NPR. A young mother who had suddenly lost her husband was talking about how she managed to overcome her terrible grief and find joy again. She talked about forcing herself to find gratitude. She recognized that true joy, and true happiness, come in the small, happy moments of every day life.

And I thought about the tiny, normal, routine moments of every day with Ellie. The moment when she greets me. The moment when she asks for my hand. Or when our eyes meet through a car window as I fill my gas tank, and her face lights up just to see me.

I thought about watching her fall asleep. Or looking at her as she kisses my old hound dog so gently on his head. I thought about teaching her to brush her teeth. About the smell of her warm neck. The softness of the curly hair.

I thought about how incredibly lucky I am to have a new chance to wrap a wriggly little body in a warm towel and snuggle her until she is warm and dry.

Grandparenting, to me at least, is about having the time and the confidence to be grateful for every moment of every day with a baby in our arms.

I swear to you. It is SO NOT about the moment when you send them home.

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Wow! I had an adventure!


I am basically very cowardly.

I’m scared of getting hurt. I’m scared of falling. I’m scared of falling down an up escalator.

I’m a wimp.

But.

Now that I’m retired, and in my seventh decade of life, I am determined to push myself into new and exciting exploits. So last week, on school vacation, when Ellie would be safe in her Mommy’s arms, I had….an adventure.

I didn’t got to the Amazon to try to catch a piranha. And I didn’t head to Tibet to climb the Himalayas.

Still, for me, this was an awesome adventure.

I flew, all by myself, to the West Coast.

I know. You’re all in awe, right? I was dropped off at the huge, bustling Manchester New Hampshire airport. I flew. Alone. To Philadelphia. Where I had to (gulp) change planes.

And I flew all by my onesies across this beautiful country, all the way to San Francisco. Where I was met at the baggage claim by one of my oldest and dearest friends.

But that’s not all!

No, indeed. After three days with my pal Deb and her family, I flew ALL. BY. MYSELF. to Portland, Oregon. Where I was met at the airport by my friend Joanne, who I met when I was six years old.

So, I get it. Even though this was a huge adventure for me, it isn’t really such a big deal. Most people now jet around the world like it’s nothing.

But not me.

For me, this was a big, big stretch. And that’s why I’m telling you about it. For me, for 61 year old Nonni, this was a gigantic leap out of my comfort zone.

I made myself do it.

It scared me.

And it was fabulous. I got to see gorgeous places I would never have seen if I hadn’t pushed my sorry old self out the door. Places like Berkeley, California.

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If I hadn’t pushed myself out of my cozy little niche, I wouldn’t have had the chance to dip my feet in the Pacific at beautiful Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

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If I hadn’t decided that I was tired of being the world’s biggest chicken, I would never have flown up to Portland to reconnect with my buddy Joanne. The woman who bought me my very fist makeup (Max Factor Rose Cream Blush).

And if I had never gone up to Portland, I wouldn’t have met her hilarious, smart, warm, generous friends. I would never have seen the gorgeous Columbia river and the falls that pour into it.

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More importantly, I wouldn’t have learned that the way to make a REALLY dry martini is to use a spritzer for the vermouth. Amazon has already shipped mine.

People grow in many different ways. I understand that.

For me, growth means pushing and shoving and forcing myself out there into the big wide world. I made myself fly all alone when I was afraid.

I loved it.

Now I need to force myself to become a writer. I need to learn how to submit my stories, my essays, my thoughts for others to review, critique and judge. I need to overcome my fears and just. Try.

Life is constant growth, if you do it right.

I have to say it.

It’s actually pretty fun to be my age.

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