No Guilt Nonni


Oh, my. Poor Nonni.

If you’ve read my recent post about snow tubing, you’ll know that I have a pretty badly bruised right arm and some cracked or bruised ribs.

This is, without a doubt, my biggest ever “ouchie”. I am finding it very hard to sleep (did you know that you need your thoracic ribs to roll over?), to laugh (holy chest pain), to sneeze (catch me, I’m going to faint) or to cough (I’m going to throw up, I mean it, get that bucket, I am serious!)

My right arm just keeps swelling, getting more and more purple/black/orange/blue/yellow with every passing hour.

Me no likies. Me wicked sore.

Nevertheless, being Nonni, I agreed to watch the kids yesterday. My daughter stepped up on Tuesday, so I did get a whole day of rest after my big tubing adventure.

But after that, I really wanted to see the kids. I missed them! I needed them! So yesterday I took care of my two grandchildren. I wanted them. I needed to be with them.

And I wanted to prove that I could handle a little ol’ tubing crash without missing a beat.

So I lifted Johnny with my left arm (ouch. I didn’t know my ribs would be so connected). I snuggled Ellie on my lap (Yikes, did you know your ribs were connected to your lap?) I changed some diapers and served some meals and some snacks. I helped Johnny climb into his crib for a nap (oh, man, ribs are used for lifting on the other side?), but I had to lift him out when he woke up (ouch, ow, ow, ouw).

You get the picture, right?

One cannot Nonni with only one working arm.

Last night I woke up every time I tried to 1) roll over 2) cough 3) breathe. Every rib I have ever met seemed to be screaming at me.

When I got up this morning, I was surprised (and completely disgusted) to see that my entire right arm was swollen like a sausage.

Yuck.

But what could a Nonni do? I got up, took my shower without looking at the ugly purple appendage on my right, and got ready to take care of the kids.

I tried. I did.

But.

You cannot wrestle an 18 month old boy out of his poopie clothes and into his clean ones without your ribs. You can’t snuggle a sad 3 year old in your arms without using your right arm. No matter how hard you try, you can’t wipe down two wet dogs with one working arm. You can’t make pasta, or a sandwich, or get a snack for three hungry toddlers without dragging that aching right arm into service.

So.

I did it.

I did what no self-respecting Italian Nonni would ever do.

I asked for help.

I texted my daughter, telling her that I wasn’t able to keep the kids safe with my one working arm. I told her that she needed to come home from work early, and that I didn’t think I should have the kids tomorrow.

I felt breathless with guilt. I felt weak, worthless, upset, guilty.

And then my daughter came home.

“Mom,” she said calmly, “You’re hurt. You can’t watch the kids. It’s fine.”

And just like that, the guilt and weakness and oh-poor-me lifted off of me.

Tomorrow I plan to sit still, with ice on my arm. I plan to read. I plan to take my ibuprofen and use my ice packs.

Tomorrow I will be Boo-Boo Nonni instead of Super Nonni. And I will be OK with that.

It isn’t easy, let me tell you, but even an Italian Nonni can find a way to give her swollen purple arm and her smashed up ribs a chance to heal.

Thanks, Kate!!!

This was the first night….you should see how gross it is now…….

“Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future.”


Sometimes, like all of us, I wish that I could make time run in reverse, and go back to earlier days.

I wish that I could visit my childhood again. I’d still have both of my parents. My Dad would be alive and full of fun and handsome and strong. My Mom would still be his beautiful bride, and their six kids would giggle as he pulled her into his arms for a kiss before dinner.

I wish that I could reclaim the sense of endless hope that pervaded those days. When I’d sit in the backyard and gaze at the full moon and dream of the adventurous and romantic life I’d lead one day.

More than that, though, even more than that: I wish that I could hit rewind, just for a few minutes, to see my three little children playing on the living room rug. I wish I could hold each of them in my arms, my beautiful babies. I wish I could hear those voices, laughing or crying, or calling “Mom!”

But time doesn’t work that way, does it? No matter how much we want to hold onto the past, or hold onto today, all of it keeps slipping into the future. And as impossible as it seems, here we sit on the eve of the year 2019.

I will turn 63 this year. My Mom will turn 89. Both are impossible from the vantage point of my heart.

My oldest child will turn 33, and her oldest will turn 4.

Impossible. Unbelievable. Somehow all of it simply wrong. Too soon, too quick, too rushed.

I am not ready.

And that’s the beauty of the whole thing. Time doesn’t care if we are ready. Time doesn’t care if we have grasped our own mortality, or if we’ve accepted the losses that it has brought us.

Time keeps on slipping into the future.

So what is that I wish for in my 63rd year of this wonderful, tiring, surprising, inspiring life?

I wish for another year with all of my children and their partners happy, healthy and filled with hope. I wish for a year of growth and new adventures and continued good health for my grandchildren, my best beloveds.

I wish, with all my heart, for another year with my Mom on this earth. I wish for more shared meals, more jigsaw puzzles, more hours spent pouring over old photo albums. Her memory is weak, so sometimes these jaunts into the past are more upsetting than pleasant. Even so, I wish for more time with her as the rudder in my life.

For my country, I wish for a year of healing. Somehow, some way, I hope that we can find our way back to the days of arguing without hatred. I hope and I wish and I pray that something will change to bring us out of these dangerous times and help us find our way back toward some sense of national unity.

Time keeps on slipping into the future.

We can’t turn it back. We can’t stop it.

We can only keep moving forward, faster and faster every year, keeping our minds and our hearts open to each other. Trying to grow and learn and improve.

Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy, Joyful 2019.

Time Keeps On Slipping

Shalom


Peace.

Peace be upon you and upon all you love.

Salaam.

Peace.

I don’t know what to write today, so I’m going to simply wish you peace. Soft words, soft landings, safe spaces.

Peace in your hearts. Peace in your angry, saddened souls.

Peace to all of us who mourn for more lost lives, more unspeakable gun violence.  Peace to all who fear for the future of our country.

Wishing peace and calm to all who ask themselves “How could we have come to this place? How could we be letting these things happen?” Peace to all of us who have begun to fear each other. And peace to those who are feared.

Shalom to all who have already been through this kind of awful, ugly, ignorant, hateful terror and lived to tell us your stories. Salaam to those who have already gotten away from this kind of hatred and violence and have come to us as a safe haven.

Peace.

Peace.

Peace.

Tomorrow, smile at someone who wears different clothing than you do. Say hello to someone who has skin of a different tone than yours. Give a helping hand to someone who is speaking a language you can’t understand.

Peace.

Shalom.

Salaam.

We need it so much right now.

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Dear CVS, I Hay Chew


Generally speaking, I live a pretty easy life. I’m retired, I get to spend the days gardening, reading, playing with my grandchildren. I don’t have many stressors.

And that’s a damn good thing, because the ONE huge issue in my life is my ongoing war with CVS.

The trouble started a couple of years ago, when my Mom realized that it was time to give up her car keys. She came to this difficult decision after her kids and grandkids gently persuaded her that she had become a menace to herself and to everyone else on the road.

It only took a few weeks of endless haranguing, but Mom eventually agreed and gave up both keys and car.

Phew.

At that point, I had the brilliant idea that we should switch Mom’s prescriptions from the local CVS to the online Caremark/CVS system. Smart, right? No more worrying about needing a refill every thirty days, because with Caremark, we can get three months worth sent right to the house!

No more multiple texts to figure out who can pick up the medicine, and who can call the doctor to reorder.

So.

Smarty pants me went online and signed Mom up for Caremark. Awesome!!!!

I checked all the boxes, filled in all the information, clicked where I was supposed to click.  Thirty days later, right on time, Mom’s three medications were refilled! Huzzah!!!!

Annnnnnd….30 days after that (even though CVS/Caremark had sent us 90 days worth of meds), Mom got a call from her local store asking her if she wanted to refill her scripts.

Huh. I thought I had clicked the “no longer refill at local CVS” button….Oh, well. No big deal. I called Caremark and spoke to a nice lady. She promised to fix things.

One peaceful month passed, and then, you guessed it. CVS called Mom again. She got confused but figured they knew what they were doing. So she got refilled AGAIN.

This time I called both CVS and Caremark. The local store promised to take care of it and change the status in their computer.

But Caremark, the same place I had called four weeks earlier, told me that they couldn’t speak to me about my Mom.

“But you did speak to me a month ago.”

“Well, we can’t speak to you now. You need to prove that you have power of attorney.”

“Uh…Will her medicine be refilled when it’s due?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

Grrrrrrr.

Fast forward about 4 weeks. My older brother has sent proof that he has power of attorney. I have walked into our local CVS to explain the situation. I’ve been reassured that they won’t try to refill her meds at the store any more.

Time for the Caremark three month order.

Which did. not. come.

Double grrrrrrrrr.

Log back into Caremark, click more boxes, check more checks, remove Mom’s phone number and replace it with mine. Fill out the “Automatic Refill” form. Again. Put my name on as “medication manager”.

Feel satisfied.

Until Mom calls to tell me that……CVS CALLED HER AGAIN TO REFILL THE MEDS!!!!

This has been going on for months. Months, I tell you!!!!

I have called the local store 3 times, been in there twice, called the 1-800 corporate number twice and gone to CVS online at least five times.

The last time I went into Mom’s local store, I begged the pharmacy lady, “Please, please, forget you ever knew Mom! Pretend she died! Can you mark her record as deceased??”

They were horrified, but I was getting desperate.

I swear, I don’t know what to do!

Two weeks ago I had to get on line again because one of the Caremark medications, one that is marked “automatic refill”, failed to refill.

SCREECH!!!!

Got that sorted out without resorting to any felonies.

And three days later I got a text from CVS. The store. The one that is supposed to  think that Mom has crossed that rainbow bridge. The exact same frickin’ text that I have been getting every thirty days for eons.

“If you want to refill your prescription for C, text YES. If not, text NO.”

I kinda lost it.

I texted back, but it wasn’t NO. It was something more along the lines of “What the FUCK is wrong with you people???”

Answered with: “Invalid response.”

This went on for a while.

“Go to hell!”

“Invalid response.”

“Stop bothering me!”

“Invalid response.”

“Never darken my door again!”

“Invalid response.”

“I fuckin’ hay chew.”

“Invalid response.”

Finally I started to feel a little silly. Also a little vindicated. So I texted NO and figured we were set.

Nope.

Mom called me yesterday, feeling confused and embarrassed. It seems that CVS, or the tiny brains that run the place, must have decided that I was too insane to deal with. So they apparently dug out the old phone number that I had spent a year getting them to delete. They called my poor Mom, who tried to tell them that she didn’t need any refills because her kids are taking care of it.

I can’t even imagine how that conversation went.

Because not only did CVS decide to refill the meds, they also decided that Mom needed a welfare check. So the poor lady got an unexpected visit from a local police officer.

Yeah.

I will not report on the conversation I had with CVS after that. I just hope this time they believe that Mom is “in a better place” and they don’t try texting Heaven to see if she needs more blood pressure medicine.

CVS.  I seriously hay chew.

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Sleep Training, Nonni Style


john asleep

Remember when your babies were little? Remember those long, long, long nights when they’d wake up roughly every 42 seconds to nurse?

Yeah. Me too.

My daughter, the goddess of motherhood, is in the middle of this struggle right now. She has a beautiful, brilliant, (not kidding, she’s way smarter than I am) 2 1/2 year old daughter. And an almost ten month old son.

It’s little Johnny who is waking them up all night long.

I feel a tiny bit responsible for this difficult situation.

See, I watch the two kids every day, and I don’t always manage to get Johnny to take enough breast milk during the day. That makes him want to nurse all night long.

I mean, I try, God knows, I do! I give him oatmeal with breast milk, cheerios with breast milk, noodles in breast milk. I even have a new bottle, with little handles that he can use to feed himself that precious momma’s milk.

Except that he doesn’t. When I try to give him a bottle, I settle into our usual glider rocker and I lay him across my lap. I hold the bottle to his lips. He looks up at me with his huge brown eyes, all filled with love and joy. He takes approximately 2.2 sips. Then he grabs the handles of the bottle, jerks himself into a sitting position and proceeds to smack me in the head with the breastmilk filled bottle. He chortles. He giggles. He shakes the bottle so that milk flies through the air.

Just as I’m about to grab the bottle and the baby and wrestle both of them into submission, Johnny pops the nipple into his mouth, looks at me with the innocent eyes of a saint, and take two good gulps.

Repeat. After 30 minutes he might have taken one ounce. Two more are on my floor.

And then nap time comes.

Because we are sleep training, I have tried gently placing our sleepy little boy into the pack and play crib. The idea is for the little one to learn how to soothe himself to sleep. He should cry for a few minutes, then settle down to nap.

Of course, this doesn’t always go as smoothly as I’d like. In the first place, the crib is so low and the side are so high that in order for this old lady to get the half-asleep child into the bed, I have to lean over far enough to dislocate at least two vertebrae. And on the way down to the mattress, our beloved Johnny has learned to arch his back, turn his head, throw his arms up and generally make it clear that if I actually let go, I’ll do him irreparable harm.

Nevertheless, I get him in there every damn morning.

Then I go into the kitchen and I desperately try to wash dishes while listening to him scream as if his toenails are being removed with tweezers. I can hear his internal monologue, “MOMMA! She’s killing me!!! She hates me!!! She threw me into this pit of hell! My neck got twisted! My back hurts! WHY does she hate me???!!!!”

I leave him to cry it out. I hold on as long as I possibly can. His big sister usually looks at me with her own accusing brown eyes. Sometimes, I swear, she shakes her head in disbelief at my cruelty.

So 27 seconds after I put Johnny down, I scoop him back up again. I hold him to my chest, stroking his back.

He sobs. He hiccups, he lifts his tear stained cheeks to me and looks at me with accusing, melting chocolate eyes. He grabs my shirt with his tiny fists. He lays his head against my chest. He sighs.

I sit in the rocker, holding him to my heart. He falls asleep with his angelic face lifted to mine. His lips, so pink and perfect, make a lovely bow. His cheeks flush and his beautiful long lashes brush them gently.

I hold him. I watch him sleep, feeling his every breath against my own.

“I tried, ” I say aloud into the room. “I did. I tried.”

I cradle him a little closer. I close my own eyes, feeling a sense of relaxation and peace that so often eludes me.

Two hours later, when we both wake up from our naps, I hold him upright on my knee.

“Seriously, kid, ” I tell him. “Tomorrow we are going to let you cry it out. We ARE.”

He grins. He reaches his hand out and grabs me by my little finger. He looks me in the eye.

“Gabagoo.” He says. And I believe him.

 

 

The Ending of Another Year


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When I was younger, New Year’s Eve meant the welcoming of a newer, brighter, more hopeful next step. We were all moving forward into a brighter day, where all of the errors of the past could be erased and the dawning of a new spring was just ahead of us.

I remember one New Year’s Eve celebration with friends, where one of us jumped up on a table at midnight, glass of wine in hand, and shouted, “This is the year when I get MARRIED!!!” The whole bar cheered, and we all laughed and danced and jumped up and down.

It feels like yesterday.

That friend is now a grandmother of two, with another on the way. She’s still married to that fabulous guy she was dancing with on that long ago eve.

And I feel as if no time at all has passed. And I feel like that night was a thousand years ago.

Now we stand on the brink of another New Year.

Now I am more practical, more measured, more prosaic as I mark the unstoppable march of time.

Goodbye, 2017. You were a year. You had your wonderful glories, like the birth of our sweet little Johnny. And the celebration of our sons falling in love. And the wonderful summer weather.

But you were a regular year, so you had your awful moments, too. Like the loss of a young friend by his own hand. And the death of our sweet old Tucker.

You were a year of fear for a lot of us, as we saw our country fall under the control of a man who most of us think is a dangerous despot. We found ourselves revisiting our fears of nuclear war. And discovering new fears of a vulnerable power grid and cyber war.

You were a year of shock. But you were also the year of our renewed strength, as so many of us marched to voice our outrage. I ushered you in with millions of other resistors around the country, and I will usher you out with my resolve unchanged.

2017, you were a year.

I am happy enough to bid you goodbye, although a part of me thinks, “one less year of life for me” as I wave you out the door.

2018, let’s welcome you in. May your storms be few, your wars be limited, and your memories be sweet.

Another trip around the sun for all of us. Next year, I’m sure, will be another year on planet earth.

 

I weep.


Why on earth should someone in my situation find herself all teary eyed tonight?

Well. Part of it could be that I keep watching the stupid news. North Korea wants to kill us and they’re making plans to get it done. Puerto Rico, a place I have always wanted to visit, is desperate, dying, begging for help. The world is getting hotter every day, both in terms of the climate and in terms of the international relations.

And I miss my old dog. I miss my sweet, loud mouthed, running away old hound so much. And every morning when I bring my granddaughter Ellie into the house, her first comment is “Tucker died. Him all gone. Tucker died. I miss him.”

Me, too, little girl. Me, too.

I am weepy because the season is ending. Summer is slowly giving up her last heated blast of breath, and the leaves are slowly turning yellow and gold. Winter is out there, waiting for us. The year is dying. So my eyes fill with tears.

I cry because I am tired, too. Because I have spent the past few days with my best beloved grandchildren, and they have not been well. The baby is stuffy, coughing, cranky and wanting to be held. His usual bright eyed smiles are mixed with tears and head shaking and fits of coughing that remind me of my own little babies at his age.

And Ellie. Our Ellie. Last night she slept here, having a “Pajama party for Papa!” and snuggling into bed with Paul and I. She laughed, she chatted, she sang songs. And as she drifted off to sleep, her hand gently stroked my cheek. I heard her murmuring, “Oh, Nonni. My Nonni. This Ellie’s Nonni. I love you, Nonni!”

So my heart filled up, and it overflowed, and it keeps on running. She loves me. He loves me. Their Mama loves me.

But I didn’t get very much sleep last night. Or any today. So I’m feeling fragile. And weepy.

And my puppy Lennie, trying desperately right now to get me to play tug-o-war with his favorite chew toy? He loves me. And he reminds me of the one we lost. He misses Tucker, too.

So I’m weepy.

Tired, and really just “I sprung a leak” sloppy.

Life is good, for as long as it lasts.

I’m just feeling a little bit…I guess…well, I feel kind of weepy.

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We miss you, Tucky. 

Rock maple and dovetailed joints.


 

32235_398975950898_543400898_4765939_6508281_nMy Dad could do anything with his hands. When we were little, he used to spend a weekend taking apart a car engine, cleaning everything, then putting it back together again.

He could fix leaky pipes, he could paint walls and trim. My Dad could lay down carpet, strip wallpaper, rewire lights, plane the bottoms of doors so they wouldn’t stick.

Most of all, though, my Dad could bring out the life and the beauty of wood.

He made shelves, and little stools and steps and work sheds.

My Dad made my sons tiny wooden train sets that fit together perfectly. Each car had one of the boy’s names on it.

They are still here, in our house. The golden stained wood still gleams. The pieces still fit, 25 years after he made them. They are still beautiful.

Last weekend I drove two hours out to the small city in the Berkshire Hills where my boys live. I got a tour of the classic Victorian house where my son Matt is living.

As soon as I saw the old wooden floors, and the built in shelving, and the gorgeous dark wood bannisters on the stairs, I though of Dad. He would have loved that house!

We went up into Matt’s room, and there I saw his bureau. An old, golden hued wooden bureau, in Matt’s bedroom.

And it was if Dad was standing there beside me.

I started to laugh, but there were tears in there, too.

“Oh, man! I forgot that you have this bureau!” I said, running my hands across the smooth top.

“This is rock maple.” I said it reverently, although I have no idea what “rock maple” is. I could hear Dad saying those words to me, and they were filled with respect and pride when he said them.

So I repeated them to my boy.

This old bureau had belonged to my husband in his childhood. He doesn’t know where it came from, but he grew up with it. When we got married, it became our bureau. It was in our first apartment in the corner of the bedroom. It travelled with us to grad school in New Jersey, and then to our first apartment after graduation.

When our baby was born, we moved for a while back into my parents’ house. We needed to save money and we needed a safe, clean place to live. So back “home” we went.

And that’s where my Dad taught me how to refinish furniture. We took that old bureau, scratched and dinged and dirty, down into Dad’s garage workshop. And he stripped the old stain off, and sanded it, and sanded it again. I learned about the grades of sandpaper, and the use of a good “tack cloth”. I learned to use mineral spirits to clean up every speck of dirt and sawdust.

I learned about the proper use of stain, and how to smooth it on evenly. Dad pointed out the dovetail joints in the bureau drawers, telling me that you don’t see those very often any more.

Together we chose the stain, a very light golden oak that brought out the warmth in the hard, hard wood. Dad showed me every grain in that wood. He showed me how to be sure that every rough bit was smoothed away.

“Like a baby’s bottom,” he’d say when we got a drawer face perfectly smooth.

It was so special to work there beside him. He never got impatient. He never seemed in a hurry. I saw how the wood came to life under his hand. I saw how he was able to coax beauty out of something rough and old and stained.

I had wanted to toss out that old piece of furniture as soon as we could, but Dad was horrified at the thought.

“This is rock maple!” he’d said. “Those are dovetailed joints!”

Together we worked on the old wooden bureau, and I learned that my father was an artist, though he never described himself that way. I learned to be patient when polishing the top of a refinished piece of furniture with wax.

I learned how to listen, to watch, to imitate. I learned how to see the strength and the beauty under the rough exterior.

I learned how much my father loved a job well done, and I learned how much I loved my father.

Last week, standing in that bedroom in that old Victorian house, I caught sight of that beautiful bureau, with my son’s belongings sitting on top.

“This is rock maple!” I told him seriously. I pulled out one of the drawers. “See?” I asked him and  his bemused friend, “These are dovetailed joints.”

They agreed that the bureau is a real beauty. They were smiling at my earnestness.

We left then, turning off the lights and leaving the old rock maple bureau in the dark, in that old, old house.

It’s hard to say how much I love the thought of my son sleeping every night beside that wood that had felt my Dad’s loving hand.

I hope Matt keeps that bureau. I hope he gives it to a child of his own one day.

I hope that he tells that child, very seriously, “This is rock maple, you know.”

 

 

Giving Her “Grit”


There is a new buzzword in the world of education, and its a real eye roller.

The word is “grit” and it means the ability to handle difficulty; to persevere, to deal with opposition. It’s actually a fabulous idea, and one that a whole lot of parents need to learn. But I guess its an eye roller because so many parents of my generation already know this stuff.

Anyway, the idea of giving a child “grit” means that as adults we step back and let the kids struggle a bit. Its the idea that unless the child has worked hard and struggled at least a little, his success won’t feel like anything much.

I agree.

I was a teacher for a long time. I raised three kids. I grew up in a family of six kids with two busy, working parents.  I know about grit.

I know that too many children are rescued by well meaning parents when their social lives run into conflict. I know that too many kids are celebrated when they haven’t actually achieved their goals. I know that stressed out families try to shield their children from any anxiety or struggle, in a misguided belief that those are dangerous emotions.

But I also know that when I was a child, I didn’t feel particularly excited to get good grades in reading or writing. Ho, hum. I could ace that stuff with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.  But I was thrilled to get a C plus in chemistry, because THAT was some serious crap.

Grit.

Years ago my youngest son, Tim, was learning to play hockey. Early in his skating life, he came across a mean spirited, nasty coach. I remember that I picked my little boy up from practice one night. On the way home, I noticed that my 9 year old was in tears in the back seat. When I pressed him, he told me that his coach had called him a “baby” because his wrist shot was so weak. I was outraged, of course. My very best Mamma Bear self reared up to defend my cub. But he was much smarter than I was. When I expressed my outrage and told my boy that I planned to talk to the idiot coach, he said, “Don’t, Mommy.  Just let me think bad words about him in my head. Don’t talk to him.”

So I didn’t.

A few days later, my Tim came home from school, put on his skates and his hockey gloves and headed out to our backyard rink. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but I kept peeking out the window at him as the afternoon wore on.  Finally, just at dark, he came in the front door.  Throwing down his gloves, my sweet little boy looked up at me and said, “There! Now I have a damned wrist shot.”

The coach never teased him again.  Grit.

Now I am taking care of my sweet baby Ellie. She is a serene, happy little thing. Up until now, she has rarely cried.

But she has suddenly hit a point in her life when she desperately wants to MOVE! She can scoot on her butt and turn herself around. She can roll over and back again.  But she can’t quite get herself propelled forward to reach her toys. She can’t yet pull herself up.

So I sit with her on the floor every day. I watch her reach for the stacking cups, and pick them up. I watch as one rolls away and I watch her struggle to stretch herself out to pull it back.  She grimaces, she groans.  Sometimes she squeezes her eyes shut, shakes her fists and howls.

I sit beside her. I tell her “Keep going.” I smile and I nod.  I say, “Ellie, you can do it!”

Sometimes she fails.  But sometimes she manages to lean herself forward so far that she is almost on her knees, and she hooks one determined finger around that errant cup and she pulls it back and picks it up.  And then I breathe a huge sigh, and I cheer her on. “You did it, honey! You got it!”

Grit.  I hope that I am giving her a sense that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to accomplish.  I hope that I am giving her, even at this tender age, the realization that she doesn’t need Nonni to do what she wants; she can do it all by herself.

I hope that I am giving her grit.

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“I got it, Nonni!”

A Warm Spring Night


It was a warm, wet, humid spring day today.  There was a low overcast all day. The wind was strong, and the clouds were racing from South to North.  Not a usual New England pattern on April 1st. Not at all.

I took Ellie outside. She sat in her stroller, watching me with her wise dark eyes as I raked up the straw and pine boughs that had covered my perennial beds. The wind blew strong and the pines creaked and moaned. Ellie watched. She watched me stoop and scrape and gather up the winter coat of the garden. She watched the birds darting back and forth and up and down. She tipped her head back and watched the tops of the trees as they swayed back and forth above her.

Tonight, after I had taken Ellie home to her Mom and Dad, I stood on my deck. The night was coming on fast, and rain threatened to fall.  There was thunder in the distance, making my old dog Sadie shiver and quake at my feet.

I looked out, across our property, to the wetlands beyond.  I strained a bit to hear what I so wanted to hear.  And there it was.

The spring song of the “peepers”, the tiny green tree frogs whose voices fill the evening air of New England springtimes.  I smiled, remembering all of the years when my children and I had stood in this same spot, waiting for that springtime call of love and hope.

I thought about Ellie. How funny, I thought to myself.  This is her first spring time!

I thought about the rhythms of life. About Ellie hearing and smelling spring for the very first time in her life. I thought of myself, remembering so many springtimes in the past.  I thought of my Mother, feeling and hearing spring in her 86th year, wondering how many springtimes are still before her.

I stood on my deck, in the damp warm evening. I breathed in the smell of the leaves and the warming smell of the earth. I listened to the peepers in the marsh, seeking love.

Ellie has so much to look forward to in this beautiful life.