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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A life lesson…for Nonni


Before I start this sad, sad tale, I must tell you that I am a modern teacher lady. I am an up-to-date grandmother.

I know the buzzwords.

When I was a little child, our parents were very busy. They had a lot of us. They loved us deeply, but they didn’t make it their personal goal every second of every day to make sure that we were ecstatically happy.

If you grew up as a “Baby Boomer,” you know what I mean.

We lived our childhood lives, our parents lived theirs.

Then our generation became parents, and everything changed. Women went back to work. That meant a few things. It meant that Dads learned to vacuum.

It also meant that both Moms and Dads were buried under a gigantic avalanche of guilt. Your baby is upset because he didn’t like his broccoli? Oh, my god! That’s because I WORK! My mom didn’t work…I think we liked our broccoli…”

The truth of course is that you hated your broccoli, but your Mom just took it away and waited until the next meal, when she served you peas.

Our generation somehow got it into our heads that our children should NEVER experience the slightest difficult emotion.

As a teacher, I saw this a lot. Anxious parents, bless their well meaning hearts, asking for my help because, God forbid, the math was hard. I empathized with them. Kids cry over homework and it breaks a parent’s heart. I get it.

But I also understood, as a teacher, that if the math wasn’t hard, the child wasn’t growing.

I learned, as a mom and then as a teacher, that it is good for kids to experience all of life’s richness. Including the hard stuff, the sad stuff and the scary stuff. Otherwise how will they ever emerge as adults who are strong enough to cope with reality?

So. I know what the education gurus mean when they tell us that we need to teach children to be resilient. Or to have (cough, cough) “grit.” They need to just suck it up and deal with it when life is hard.

I was all about that idea.

Until this morning.

My beautiful, loving, funny, 20 month old granddaughter, Ellie, was helping me make a batch of meatballs. She was standing on a kitchen chair, with Nonni behind her. She helped me crack the egg, put in the bread crumbs, add the spices. She was in the process of peeling two cloves of garlic and an onion.

Suddenly both of us heard the sound of our puppy, Lennie, chomping on something deliciously plastic. Crack! Crack! Crunch!

I rushed into the living room, where I found the perp happily destroying the bulging plastic eyeball of Ellie’s absolutely favorite stuffy, Elmo. I grabbed the toy from the pup, swearing under my breath. I stepped out of the room, out of Ellie’s eyes, and looked at the damage.

Holy crow. Elmo was missing his right eye completely, with only sharp pointy pieces left. His left eye was broken, but still in place. I was immediately swept with fear.

My first thought was, “Hide him! Replace him!” I thought of a quick run to Amazon…a new, perfect Elmo could be here in 24 hours!

Then I thought about “grit” and resilience.

I slowly walked the wrecked little red guy into the kitchen, where my beautiful girl stood in her orange apron, garlic bulb in hand. I held poor Elmo out to her. I said, “Uh, Lennie chewed on Elmo…”

In a reaction that far outpaced her tender age, Ellie burst into tears and reached for her beloved friend. “Oh!” She sobbed, repeatedly kissing Elmo’s head. “Poor, Emmo, poor Emmo!”  She rocked him, she cried, she kept looking at me. “Nonni! Emmo!” I had no idea what to say to her.

“I know, honey. I’m sorry. Lennie broke Elmo’s eyes…”

“Poor Emmo! Emmo!! No, no, no!” She sobbed. She sat down on the chair, clutching broken, eyeless Elmo to her chest. She rocked and cried and kissed his chewed up face.

As an experienced, professional teacher/mom/Nonni I knew how to respond.

I grabbed both Emmo and Ellie to my chest and sobbed along with her.

“New Elmo!” my brain ordered.

But then I grabbed a tissue and gulped down my sadness. Lennie was curled up on a rug, looking guilty.

I thought about Emmo and his shattered plastic eyeballs.

I went to our medicine cabinet and pulled out a roll of self-sticking injury wrap. I grabbed a roll of bright red bandage, and wrapped up Elmo’s face. I presented the bandaged toy to Ellie.

“Emmo?” she asked. “This?” She touched the bandage and looked up at me with her huge, tear filled, dark eyes.

“Yes!” I said in my cheery voice. “It’s a bandage! It’s over Elmo’s eye. So he’s…um…he’ll be better! Ah…Elmo is OK!”

Carefully, with a grace I would never expect from such a little girl, Ellie gathered Elmo into her arms. “Emmo,” she murmured into his fur. “Emmo. Poor Emmo.” She kissed his cheek.

She was not fooled.

Ellie spent the rest of the day gently rocking and kissing poor Emmo. She napped with him, carefully tucked under the covers. He came with us to the grocery store, the hair salon and the vet, where lots of adults commented on his wrapped up head.

Ellie just stared at all of them. She didn’t say a word.

But she gently, gently kissed that funny bandaged head. She whispered, “Emmo” into his neck.

I guess Ellie learned something today. Life can be hard. Forgiveness is necessary. Dogs sometimes eat plastic eyeballs.

And I learned something, too. An idea on paper or in theory is very different from an idea in real life. I am fighting the urge to order that new Elmo at this very moment. And blind Elmo is sitting here looking at me.

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So I have a missing eye, but Ellie still loves me!

Oh, my sweet Wolf King


The Wolf King, my sweet Tucker Pup, is the first dog I have ever had who has lasted.

My first dog, when I was four years old, was smooshed by a passing car after only two weeks with us.

My next dog, when I was nine, was way too much trouble and was given away two years after I got her.

I never had another dog until I was 34, living in the first (and only) house I’ve ever owned. My two children were young. My third was still just a distant hope in my heart.

We got a dog. She was sweet, gentle, smart, a lot of fun. She was here with us when our third child was born. We loved her!

Then we discovered that the kids were desperately allergic to pets. After our son got home from his asthma/pneumonia hospitalization, we had to let her go. She was adopted by a local family, but we never saw her again.

Then, finally, we got Tucker. The kids were all grown up, all able to manage their allergy symptoms. All on their way to their own lives, away from here.

We got Tucker. Tuckerman. Our big (much bigger than we anticipated) hound dog.

The Wolf King.

He has brought us so much joy, love, aggravation, fur and pleasure. He was Sadie’s boon companion for the last eight years of her life.

Now he is an old man. He doesn’t see well. He doesn’t always digest as efficiently as our nasal passages would like.

His back and his hips are arthritic, aching, weak.

We got him, God help us, a puppy.

Who has made him remember what it was to play. The puppy has reminded him of the joy of chewing rawhide. Its been good.

Except.

The Wolf King sometimes can’t get back up the stairs after a romp in the yard with the pup. Sometimes he needs us to give him a push. Or a lift.

How degrading.

This afternoon the two dogs were outside, romping, jumping, pretending to be ferocious fighters. Bark, bark, growl, bark, jump, twist, bark, bark, YEOWCH.

The Wolf King couldn’t get back inside. We got the pup in his crate and we urged and encouraged and finally the old guy wobbled his way, step by aching step, up onto the deck. He shivered and shook his way into the living room, where he laid down on the rug.

We gave him his gabapentin. We put on an ice pack. I massaged along his spine. He lifted his regal head and looked me in the eye. “This sucks” his deep brown eyes said to me. “It does for sure,” I said out loud.

He fell asleep. I rested my forehead on his. My tears soaked his sweet, puppy soft fur.

What will I tell Ellie when her best beloved old Tucky isn’t around anymore to comfort her when she’s sick?

I know. He isn’t done yet. He still loves his walks and his chicken liver and his romps in the snow with the pup.

He still loves us.

And he sure does love his Ellie. Yesterday’s post proves that.

So.

I’m happy for every day with this old guy. I’m happy for every time that Ellie leans down to kiss his old head.

And you know what?

I’m happy for every single time that puppy Lennie gets him to forget his aches and pains for a few minutes.

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Ouchie. Ouchie big time.

 

 

Food is love


The idea that food equals love is not an original one. Years ago I had a friend, a teacher colleague, who used to talk about her own nuclear family growing up. They were Italians, like my own family, and her Mom raised her, as mine did, with the idea that feeding people is a way to show that you love them.

I totally live that way.

One of my favorite hobbies now that I’m retired is going through old, old cookbooks and reading about the delicacies of the past. I’ve been collecting old cookbooks that I read the way other people read a novel.

One of my favorites was a wedding gift to my Mother, given to her in 1950. The book was first published in 1901. It has tips on things like making a roast chicken. Step one? Kill the chicken.

Anyway, I was thinking today about the whole cultural idea of food as a show of love. And I think that feeding a hungry person is absolutely an act of love.

In my 61 years on this earth, I have brought food to friends who are grieving, family who are sick, friends and family who are celebrating milestones. I have made soup for fellow grad students on a snowy night. I’ve brought muffins to school on the morning after terrible and shocking events like 9/11.

And I’ve learned, slowly, to accept tortellini soup when I was the one in need. I loved it when a friend at school gave me a gift of lasagna for Christmas when I was a working mother of three little children.

So in the past few weeks, as Ellie has had her first bad cold and ear infections, I found myself thinking about “food is love” once again.She had the chills; I made her ginger lemon tea. Not from a tea bag. With actual grated ginger and lemon and honey.

I made soup. I had frozen chicken stock, made after we had eaten our locally raised, organic, sustainable birds. I cooked down the carcasses, peeled off all the meat, froze it into small cubes. Which I then cooked with garlic (antibiotic properties), onion, carrots, the herbs I dried from last summer……

It was good. She like it. She ate it. No biggie.

Except that I felt fabulous. I felt like Nonni of the year.

Why? I didn’t make her better; she still had to take her antibiotics and her nose drops. She still had her fevers and her chills.

But I COOKED for her. I showed her how much I love her. I gained a totally false but somehow satisfying sense of control over the microbes of the universe.

It was great.

Today Ellie and I roasted a big pan of beef bones, which we then put into a stock pot with veggies and spice.

It’s simmering on the stove right now. Just waiting for the next cold or flu to hit someone I love.

Food. Is. Love.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

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Proof That I Am A Lucky Nonni


Oh, I know. You’re all thinking, ‘Here she goes again. Ellie is perfect, Ellie is genius, blah, blah, blah.’

Well, the joke’s on you.

This post is not about Ellie.

OK. Well, not directly anyway.

This post is about the fact that I know I’m the luckiest women in the whole wide world because I get to spend every single day with my granddaughter, AND: her parents are so relaxed they even make ME feel calm.

Let me set the stage.

When I was a young mother of three beautiful babies, I was neurotic. Like, really.

The first time my first child threw up, I didn’t think, “Stomach bug.” Nope. I called my sister, sobbing. “She has a brain tumor!!!”

I am not calm. I am not a laid back Momma.

Nevertheless, in spite of me, all three of my kids have grown up to be healthy and happy adults.

Now I have Ellie. My love. My perfect “do over.” My chance to be the one who stays at home and does the nurturing.

God, I love that girl…..

So far, Ellie has given me the chance to relive all of my most precious Momma memories. I have given her a bottle, rocked her to sleep, held her while she napped. I have read her books, changed her diaper, sat her on the potty.

Hell, I have fed her my meatballs and watched her smear the sauce all over her face and hair.

These are the things that I missed so intensely after my nest emptied. These are the sweet memories that had me sobbing into my pillow at 3 AM.

Ellie has let me relive all of those moments. And this time I am acutely aware of the fleeting and profoundly moving nature of those moments.

I am so grateful to her parents for trusting me.

Still. I am a nut.

Yesterday Ellie came back to me after 10 full days away from each other. I went to pick her up and she was sobbing. “Mommy! Mommy!” she was chanting. Her Dad and I were both unsure of how to make her feel better about having her Mommy go back to work after school vacation.

I sang, I acted silly, I fed her oatmeal (OK, my husband made it the way she likes it…) and then we tried to settle into our day.

Somewhere around midday, I looked at Ellie and saw the drooping eyes, the red cheeks, the sad expression. Our eyes met, and she walked over to me. She settled into the space between my knees, and laid her head on my arm.

“Nanni,” she said.

I felt the heat of her skin.

Our Ellie had a fever.

I texted her Mom, gave her some Tylenol, poured her a cup of cool water. Then I sat in my rocking chair and held her against me. She was breathing fast, the way little ones do when they have a fever. Her head was resting against my cheek. Her hot little hand was holding mine.

I hummed some old songs. The songs I used to sing to her Momma and her Uncles. We rocked. She dozed. Every now and then, she turned to me with those shiny fever eyes and said, again, “Nanni.”

My heart melted right down into my toes.

Of course, I gave her Tylenol, and she perked up in 30 minutes. But still. For that brief time, I was right back in those special, beautiful, meaning-of-life moments, when I was the only comfort for a sick baby.

Mea culpa, mea culpa!

I was sorry that she was sick, and I did what I needed to do to make her feel better.

Still. I freakin’ loved that half hour of rocking her hot little body.

And this is why I’m the luckiest woman alive.

When I confessed this horrible truth to my daughter….when I explained to her how much I loved holding her sick child….she said, “So? It’s not like you infected her on purpose.”

She is a goddess. She let’s me be the neurotic Nonni I was born to be. Her husband is right there with her.

See?

Who in the world is luckier than me?

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Happy, happy Nonni

When I lived with Muslims


I was only 17 years old, completely naive and completely sheltered. I signed up for the American Field Service exchange program, figuring that I’d spend a summer in Ireland or Austria or somewhere else that was fairly familiar.

When my acceptance and placement package arrived with the news that I would be moving in with the Barrak family of Kairouan, Tunisia, my reaction was a mix of panic and disbelief.

Where the hell was Tunisia? What would I be doing in a place like that? What were the people like? The food? The weather?

Luckily for me, AFS didn’t give me much time to back out. I read all that I could about the country, feeling somewhat calmed down when I saw that it was hot and dry in the summer, and that the beaches were gorgeous.

The Barrak family sent me letters, some in French and some in English. They were warm, welcoming, excited to meet me. I saw pictures of all of their beautiful, smiling faces and realized that I’d be moving in with a happy, healthy family. In fact, they sounded a lot like my own Italian American family. We had six kids, they had five. They were all fluent in three languages, which was way more than I could say with only my English and my shaky high school French.

I got my shots (OUCH) and packed my bags and off I flew to another world.

I spent 12 weeks with my Tunisian family. I discovered that hard working, family loving Muslims are just like hard working, family loving Catholics. I learned that sometimes the teenagers rebelled against the parents’ limits, just like we did. I learned that when I didn’t feel well, my Tunisian Maman made me special foods and came to check on me, just like my American Mom did.

I discovered that olive trees are gorgeous, that couscous with lamb is beyond delicious, and that it feels cozy and safe to wear a sefsari when you walk around a city.

My summer in Tunisia changed my life. I am still in contact with the Barrak family, through the magic of Facebook. They are still upbeat, warm, loving and still stylishly beautiful (that’s where we have parted ways!)

The ban on Muslim immigration breaks my heart. It is wrong on so many levels. It is the most unAmerican thing that I can even begin to imagine.

I want to write about my time with my Tunisian family. I want to share some of my stories about being a naive American who landed in the middle of a Muslim country way back in 1973, when war was raging between Israel and Egypt and when terrorism hadn’t yet made us fear the world around us.

Stay tuned, please.

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A lesson I keep needing to relearn.


I had one of those days yesterday, and it ran into this morning. I think every middle aged woman in America will understand what I mean.

Maybe other people feel this way, too, but I don’t know. I don’t know if men feel like this. Or if young Moms do.

I don’t know if women in other countries feel this way.

But I know that my fellow late middle aged women friends will be nodding their heads and saying, “Yup.”

The problem that I was overwhelmed with yesterday was the crushing sense of responsibility that women in my generation feel.

By the late afternoon yesterday, I was feeling that I absolutely had to do something to fight back against Donald Trump. I’m already going to the March next week, but that didn’t feel like it was enough. I write for LiberalAmerica every day, but I didn’t think it was enough to keep calling out the idiocy of our incoming President.

I was upset because my writing wasn’t perfect. While taking care of my 18 month old granddaughter and a puppy and an old hound dog, I had written three articles about the Trump transition. But the mistakes that I made weighed on my mind.

I was upset that hadn’t written and published perfectly. What must everyone at LA think of me???

And while I was trying to write, to make some money because I retired way before I should have, even though I retired partly to take care of my grandchild, I worried that I wasn’t doing enough for that grandchild.

I hadn’t taken her outside for three days! OK, it was pouring rain and 35 degrees and the yard was full of frozen slush. But I know that kids need fresh air. And I was failing.

And I kept getting frustrated with the puppy. Who was acting just like… a puppy. He wanted to eat shoes. He wanted to grab Ellie’s stuffed animal out of her arms and run around the living room. He was driving me nuts. I was not a good puppy mommy.

I was sure that I wasn’t writing enough. I wasn’t writing and publishing well enough. I wasn’t giving Ellie enough attention. I was short tempered with the puppy.

Even though I vacuum every day and dust every week, I was sure the house was dirty. I only baked home made bread with Ellie once a week. I hadn’t made cookies with her for three weeks.

I felt awful. I felt overwhelmed. I felt that I just. couldn’t. do. any. more.

Then I went onto Facebook. Where I read a post that absolutely melted my heart and gave me a strong slap in the face. In all the right ways.

You see, the town where I taught for 22 years is in the middle of a terrible crisis. Children are killing themselves in what feels like an epidemic of hopelessness.

And that has added to my sense of failure. Some of the children who have died were once in my care. While I know that it is the height of arrogance to believe that one elementary school teacher could have made a difference, I still have felt that I’ve failed.

So this morning, when I read this post, I was struggling to greet the day. I was sure that I wasn’t up to the challenges ahead of me.

But.

The full post is here. You really should read it, no matter who you are or where you live.

The author is the mother of a young adult who grew up in that town where I taught for so long, and where my daughter is now a teacher. She is the mom of a child who struggled with mental illness.

Basically, what she wrote was that we all need to take a big step back from our desire for perfection. She wrote that kids should break some rules. They should seek out some fun when they can.

She wrote that we should all accept our best and just move on.

I read her post.

I looked at my puppy. I looked at my sweet, beloved little grandchild.

We all went outside for an hour and got soaked, muddy, dirty and tired.

It was fantastic.

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Ellie in the puddle. The puppy is in the woods. The old dog was inside snoring.

A Puppy, A Baby and a Sleepy Old Nonni


One of the many pleasures of being a ‘stay at home Nonni’ is that I get to nap when Ellie does.

I have always loved naps. Always.

My dad was a wonderful napper. He could close his eyes and sleep for 15 minutes and wake up completely refreshed.

I get this talent from him.

When Ellie was very small, we used to nap together in the recliner. I’d hold her in my arms and we’d both drift off.

Now she’s too big for that to be safe, so now we lie down together on my bed. She goes to sleep, and I read or write. Sometimes (OK, pretty much every day) I fall asleep , too.

Today was one of those challenging days, when you’re not sure you can make it all work. It was snowing hard when the puppy woke me up at 6. I stayed awake checking the school closings. Would Kate have to drive to school? Would she be able to go in late?

I finally realized that her school schedule was unchanged, which meant that mine was, too. I made the coffee and headed out into the icy snow/rain mix to get my granddaughter.

It was a long, slow, slog to her house and back, a round trip of about 10 miles. At least we turned into our driveway, and I gave the old Colonial America cheer, “Huzzah!”  To my joy and pleasure, Ellie yelled it right back at me.

The day was fine, but by the time I saw Ellie rubbing her eyes at about 2 o’clock, I was ready and willing to rest. I had already cooked, served and cleaned up both breakfast and lunch. I had wrestled Lennie for possession of 4 boots, 6 socks, a mitten, 43 toys and one winter coat.

I was more than ready to bring Ellie into my bedroom for a nice nap. The problem was that Lennie was NOT in nap mode.

He was running in circles around us, grabbing at the blankets, my book, the pillow…..

I tried offering a treat. “Good boy, Lennie, good dog. Lie down!”  No good.

I tried putting down a nice warm blanket. “Lennie, time to rest!”  No good at all; he tried to eat it.

Finally, I had had it. Ellie was whining, wanting a book. My back was aching. It was snowing outside and I wanted to LIE THE HELL DOWN.

So I turned to the puppy and snarled, “LIE THE HELL DOWN!”

To my shock, he did.

Ellie and I settled in, read “Good night Moon” and she fell asleep. I wrote an article for LiberalAmerica, and then I went to sleep, too.

And when I woke up, Ellie was still snoozing, her soft curly hair moving with her gentle breaths.

I looked over the side of the bed.

There was my baby Lennie, curled into the shape of a snail. And right beside him, curled up in the exact same shape, only three times larger, was my old dog, Tucker. Side by side on one doggie bed.

I lay back down, listening to the combined sounds of two sleeping dogs and one sleeping baby girl.

Life can be so unexpectedly perfect, you know?

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When old folks argue


Yesterday we had an experience that has me thinking.

Thinking in a good way, but also thinking in a kind of serious way.

It was a pretty typical weekend day for us. We had invited some guests to come for dinner and spend the afternoon with us.

Not “guests” as in “people you need to impress” but “guests” as in “family, people who get it, people you just really want to spend your day with.”

All would have been well as we prepared to make dinner for two young couples with little kids if only Nonni here hadn’t come down with a nasty bout of asthmatic bronchitis.

Nonni woke up yesterday feeling (as my mom used to say), “Like something the cat dragged in.” My husband, also known as “the sweetest man in the world,” let me sleep late while he dealt with our old hound and our new puppy. He even took said puppy to the vet.

But when it was time to make dinner, I asked him for help. This is an unusual request from an over functioning, over controlling Italian woman, but I did. I asked for help.

Then company arrived. Our beloved young folks, with babies in arms, arrived as planned. And “Papa” went straight into Grandfather Host mode. He was charming, hugging babies, pouring beer, chatting and laughing.

Meanwhile, Nonni was sauteeing and coughing in the kitchen.

Nonni was NOT amused.

Nonni was, in fact, crabby, cranky and slightly snarling.

Both young women asked how they could help.

All of the men stayed on the couch.

Finally, Nonni growled at Papa.

And here is the point of this post.

When a couple argues during a more than 40 year relationship, this is what it means.

It means that sometimes humans misunderstand each other. Even humans who love each other and want what is best for each other.

I remember, back in about 1980, every argument felt like the end of the relationship. Every time I lost my temper, every time my husband lost his, it felt like the end of the world. I tried so hard to always push down my irritation, swallow my needs, keep the boat from rocking.

But now that my one true love and I have come through graduate school, two separate careers, raising three children, falling head over heels in love with a grandchild, and even living with three different dogs….well.

Now I understand that when I’m mad at Paul, or when he’s mad at me, it means “I’m mad at you.”

It doesn’t mean “I hate your.” or “I want a divorce” or “You are a terrible person.”

What freedom.

The best part of getting older, maybe, is the realization that you can get really annoyed at the person you love, and still love them in the morning.

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My honey and I, back in the day. At Dolly Copp Campground.

The Beauty Of Retirement


Ah, what a day.

OK, so there were those moments where Ellie wanted to sit on the potty, get off the potty, wipe her own bottom, sit back on the potty, get off the potty, wipe her own bottom…..and the puppy wanted to chew the towels, sniff said bottom, chew more towels, sniff again… and the old dog was aghast at such behavior and stood in the doorway to the bathroom saying “woof!” every four seconds…..

Still. It was a lovely, lovely day.

It was pouring out. It was foggy. It was raw.

I wasn’t commuting 37.5 miles to work, as I did for 22 years. I wasn’t dealing with indoor recess. I wasn’t trying to regulate the heat in my classroom by putting wet paper towels on the register to tell it that it was cool, and that we needed it a lot warmer.

Nope.

Today I was in my house. Wearing flannel pj pants ALL day. I had some Christmas lights on, and the pellet stove roaring.

Ellie and puppy Lennie played together. We all danced to our favorite music (except for old dog Tucker, who lay on the floor monitoring our every move.)

Today I was retired.

Ellie took a long nap on my bed, and I sat beside her, reading and answering emails and writing about politics to make a little money.

We had turkey soup for lunch. It was nice and hot.

I didn’t have to scarf down a Luna bar on my way to a meeting.

Come to think of it, I haven’t even been to a meeting in a year and a half.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of retirement. I had the time and the patience to watch my granddaughter climb on and off the potty 500 times. I had time to scroll through two days of tweets from Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

I made myself tea at 2 pm and I let the water come to a full boil.

Retirement is fabulous.

I hope you all get to try it one of these days!

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Listen to Christmas Carols on a rainy day.