Thoughts inspired by MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY

myg2

 

This is the third book I’ve read by Fredrik Backman. Not sure if this or A Man Called Ove is my favorite.  This one is story with lots of characters, which gives me hope for the book I’ve written that all is not lost. It’s main character is a child, but every character is a rich part of the story.

“…. because the people who reach the end of their days must leave others who have to live out their days without them.” — Frederick Backman

There is death in this story, but it it necessary for the story, just like in our lives. I am living out my days without a number of people who I wish were till here. I wish Cathy was here because her sense of adventure and love of music matched mine. I wish Debbie was here to leave me long, drawn out messages on voicemail. I wish Betty was here to enjoy watching me eat Key Lime pie and to tell us that “Larry says Hi!” And that Larry was here to say Hi and listen because he was always interested in everybody. I wish Charlie was here to teach E how to fish.

I wish Mamaw was here so I could ask her about what happened in 1938. I wish Great-Aunt Marie was here because where she was love was. And I’d even like to hear her burp again. I wish Dad was here to teach his great-grandkids all his nonsensical sayings. I wish Mom was here for so many reasons, I can’t even begin. So I’ll just say she was the one who always asked how Loretta was doing. And she would have liked Ruby just as much.

So I live out my days without them. I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. I think of Betty every time I have Key Lime anything. I’ve reached out to other relatives, some of whom I only recently met, to ask about 1938 and many other things. My brothers and I carry on with Dad’s sayings, and Mom’s jokes. But my voicemail still stays pretty empty.

 

Advertisements

Bell Camp: Days Six/Seven

Our last two days went by too quickly!

Day Six

5D296539-4166-49C1-A2D6-EEBC3C696FE0 (1)

 

Today we went for a short hike at Moss Rock Preserve. I think the kids knew we’d do at least one hike while they were here since we’ve done several with them in the past. We took a trail that I knew would take us to a mini-waterfall. There we all took off our socks and shoes and splashed around, and ate some snacks we’d brought along in my trusty backpack. It was really quite perfect!

In the late afternoon/early evening we went to the Ross Bridge Farmers Market. This was another WIN. We got a little produce, the kids got free balloon creations, bounced around in the bounce houses and rolled around on the lawn. We then got our meals from the food trucks. The kids had some chicken tenders from Eugene’s Hot Chicken, while Grandpa  and I got sandwiches from the I Love Bacon truck. Chuck got the The BLT of Curtis Loew and I chose the Miami Sound Machine, a Cuban sandwich made with beer braised pork belly.  We all polished it off with some shaved ice. E and I both got Vanilla Cream, while JuJu and Grandpa got Cherry Limeade.

A3D35017-A30F-4267-A52C-FDA3213B0719

Ladybug balloon

Day Seven

Our last day was rather low key. JuJu and I met a few ladies from church for breakfast at Panera, then made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. In the afternoon the kids’request was a return trip to the library. That night we had breakfast for supper per JuJu’s request, then a fairly early bedtime so we could be out the door by seven the next morning.

In addition to “Field Trips”, our days were filled with math, maps, and language arts; screen time; playing with, feeding snacks to and walking Ruby; reading and coloring; card games, board games and puzzles; Legos and scooters; telling family stories.

7E03840D-DD43-44AB-943E-BAB368070D82

A+

Our first Bell Camp was a success and we look forward to many more to come!

IMG_4708 (1)

IMG_4716

Outake – LOL!!!

Bell Camp: Day One

58300543888__2B48C240-7C23-46B2-8B6E-C20BA2AFDB3A

Day one consisted of cemetery/house hopping.

Our first stop was the Oconee Hill Cemetery. It’s a lovely, historic cemetery and the setting for a book called The Song of Daniel by Philip Lee Williams. It is a huge place and I had no clue how to find my relatives except for a photo I had of some steps with my great-grandparents’ names on them. I had the kids and Chuck on the lookout for Baileys and not only did they find some, but also some Eberharts, Seagraves, Bells plus a few other names that the kids thought were funny. It was the photo that saved the day – we found the steps and then nearby the graves we were searching for. I was so excited!

IMG_4541 (1)

I had not been to the cemetery since 2000 for Aunt Marie’s funeral. Our little Juliette Marie is named after her as am I and my cousin Susan and my daughter, Leah. Juliette is also named for her mom, Claire Marie, her Noni and two great-grandmothers on her Mom’s side. We are all MARIE STRONG!!

 

IMG_4543 (1)

I found the resting places of my grandmother and great-grandparents, also. We found a random Sorrells headstone, which is how my husband and I are connected, but that’s another story for another day.

 

The next stop was the Friendship Baptist Cemetery in Danielsville. This is where Dad’s parents, grandparents, and other relatives are buried. I remember going here a few times as a kid when Mom and Dad would bring flowers and clean up the area a little bit. I also found the graves of Uncle (Give me some sugar) Eugued and Aunt Mabel Nash. Huff is a another family name and there were Huffs buried there, including my great-grandmother Annie Tallulah Huff Graham.

 

There’s a great story about one relative named Peter Hoff/Huff. Way back in the day, Peter Huff was a bootlegger who went by the name of Pint Peter since he supplied the pints for discreet drinkers in the area. When the government came in to put in a post office, they asked the people what to name the area. They said Pint Peter, but a misunderstanding resulted in it becoming Point Peter. Using gps, we were able to find the location, but the area is now referred to as the Glade. However, we did find a road sign, which led down a dirt road to a quarry.

 

We headed back to Athens for lunch at The Varsity.

IMG_4566

 

After lunch we located three old family houses in Athens. The first was on Sylvia Circle where we lived when I was about two. Again, it was a photo that led us to the correct house. The next was Grandma’s place on Vine Circle. It looked very much like I remembered it.  The last was a house where my great-grandmother Lucy lived in the 1940s. I found the address on a letter that was in a box of letters Mom had saved. I also have a picture of Lucy sitting on the steps of that very house which was built in the 1920s. I wanted so badly to go up and knock on the door, but I settled for taking a picture from the car window.

 

That night we once again walked to Mellow Mushroom for supper. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

IMG_4586

Artist at work in Mellow Mushroom

Day one of Bell camp was full of family history and a walk down memory lane for me.

IMG_4570 (1)

Scooter and playground break

 

 

 

Bell Camp: Pre-Day One

jujumask

At Memorial Park – Athens, Georgia

After our family reunion we were privileged to have our grandchildren for a whole week! We had a wonderful time with them. We stayed in Athens at the Hyatt for a few days which was a great location seeing a bit of Athens. We walked to the Mellow Mushroom for supper, then walked around some more afterwards, fulfilling my desire to reconnect with a bygone Athens and give the kids a little family history along the way.

IMG_4523

Mellow Mushroom – Athens, Georgia

E5F940AF-045B-491B-8E57-D5548141A7B0

Absorbing wisdom from Athena

When I was a kid my Great Aunt Marie worked at the A & A Bakery in Athens. When we visited in the summers we would often pick her up from work in the afternoon when we arrived,. My Grandma lived in a small apartment on Vine Circle with just one bedroom. So, my older brother and I would often spend the night with Aunt Marie. We’d have great breakfasts, look through old photos albums and watch her grainy black and white TV. That’s where we saw the Great Wallenda cross the Tallulah Gorge.  I also remember  the nights of sleeping in the creaky twin bed in the same room with Aunt Marie.

Aunt Marie was known for her belching, which we mimicked in love, but even more for being the kindest person I’ve ever known. She loved life and never had an disparaging word for anyone. I’m so glad I have Marie for my middle name and strife to live up to her example.

I wanted to find the location of the bakery and was so excited when I did. It’s now a bar, which is sad, but I went inside and tried to imagine how it used to look.

 

We also saw the Georgia Theatre where Mom worked when she and Dad were dating. It was devastated by a fire in 2009 and rebuilt. The story of my Great Uncle Eugued coming by to see her there is a classic. He’d say, “Give me some sugar,” and embarrass her to death. Whenever I think of Uncle Eugued (we pronounced it like U-kerd) I think of Willie Nelson. I have no pictures of him except for my faint memories. He played the banjo and chewed tobacco and  Mom always told me how intelligent he was. He’d read The New York Times and other newspapers, but try to hide them from people, as if he didn’t want them to know that side of him. Quite the opposite from most people I think.

 

IMG_4532

Georgia Theatre – Athens, Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Little Boy

e1

PAD Day 4 was to write a portrait poem. This one’s for E.

 

 

Little Boy

I know you like smoked cheddar,

but not that weird cheese, Ricotta

you know every Star Wars character

and superhero

but you didn’t know your great-grandpas

your cow-lick is untamable,

your curiosity insatiable

you are lanky and heavy footed

you love videos that are silly

and reading in bed

you have a wonderful laugh,

but it stays buried inside too often

when you sleep you sleep hard,

then you are up with the sun

you are the little boy

I will always love

 

 

Kodak Moments

Most of the details from childhood are hazy and jumbled. Many are gone completely. I try to recall specific Christmas and birthday gifts. Other than the Kodak camera and a red baseball glove, I just come up with vague memories of sweaters, model rockets. And vinyl albums. – Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods

lassoing

It’s because of those Kodak moments that some memories have stayed with me. I’ve been able to look back at old photographs and remember things about the day they were taken. When I read Mark’s book, I dug out the few photos I had of our family vacation out west, then I had my brother email me some he had. I remember the dry heat of Arizona and the puppy-love longing I was experiencing that summer. I also have vague memories of drinking a lot of Sprite from hotel vending machines and my first experience with authentic Mexican food.

I get sad sometimes that so many of my memories are gone completely. I wish I had a time machine to go back and just enjoy some moments. I’d go back to when my grandma was alive and have some real conversations with her. I’d go back to high school and just be myself without all the self-conscious hindrances. I’d play sports and eat better, too. I’d relive that July Fourth of 1985 when everything just seemed perfect.

Alas, there is no time machine for me except the one going too fast into the future. So, I take photos of big and little moments as I hope to preserve a few memories for my grandkids.

kodak

A Kodak moment – 6/11/17

Thoughts from Great Expectations #1

ge2

“…I have often thought that few people know what secrecy there is in the young, under terror. No matter how unreasonable the terror, so that it be terror.” – from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I have come to understand this more the older I get. Last year our grandson went through a long patch of waking up afraid in the middle of the night. It wasn’t an easy fix, because it was difficult to understand just what was going through his mind. No matter how unreasonable his terror may have seemed to an adult, it was real to him.

Last week I experienced the crushing heartache of a young boy gripped by a real fear. His aunt had overdosed and was not expected to live. Here he was at school, with all the ridiculousness of middle school going on all around him, and he was worried, afraid, and grieving for someone close to him that he may not ever see again. She was miles away in another town and he was helpless.

I’ve had students who have lost siblings and parents while under my care. I’ve known some who have attempted suicide and others who have been tugged through a messy divorce.

As teachers, we are a part of a student’s life for hours on end. We can make the most of our relationship with them by being more perceptive and understanding. But most importantly, we can take them to the Lord in prayer.