Sunday, May 23, 2021

At a loss for words

 More than a week has flown. Winter weather is shelved along with sweaters, and summer weather has arrived. I am delighted. This morning we were  planning to go grocery shopping. Bill showered, dressed and went out on the patio. I got ready and came out to discover he was not on the patio, in the yard, or shed. Hmm...

I found him visiting our Bosnian neighbors on their front porch. It is difficult as it is to communicate with each other because we speak very-very little of each other's languages.

The woman, a little younger than us, had surgery couple weeks ago. We thought she was on vacation. Her husband told Bill, "Hospital. Her Zooknekey." He pointed to lower abdomen. 

 I told Bill he was probably saying uterus. Female surgery. Bill concluded the surgery was laproscopic when her husband indicated "Doctor four holes stomach."

So as we sat on the porch, her husband translated that she was feeling much better after throwing up so much. We discovered the woman had gall baldder surgery, not female surgery. 

You know how difficult and awkward it can be to tell someone there is something coming out of their nose even when you speak the same language and know them well? I thought better of bringing attention to it. And kept smiling and trying to communicate with the neighbor man about their cute baby granddaughter. "She is so cute. She looks like grandpa."

"I  grandpa. I love Esme." And he does! 

So we were making a little progress when all of a sudden a small insect flew onto his cheek, traveled into his nose, and then backed out, and climbed into his mouth. 

I had to leave. How do you say in Bosnian, "You have a booger in your nose and a bug in your mouth?"

Such is my life.  


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Time Traveler

The other day I discovered the website of a neighborhood where I grew up many-many years ago. I was surprised and elated to see the faces and names of my childhood friends. I remember playing with the two girls (back left) Susie and Sunny. Funny how seeing this photo placed me smack dab in Susie's home across the street from our home. I can picture her dad, brothers, mom. 

Life takes us far away, but somehow, and sometimes it circles us back "home."  Everyone sat on porches on hot summer evenings. We went indoors to listen to 15 minute serial radio programs: Jack Benny, Young Dr. Malone and so many more. Television was just making its debut. Black and white! 

The milk man delivered milk in an enclosed carriage, pulled by a single horse. And if we were lucky, he would use an ice pick to break off a chunk of ice and toss it on the grass for us. Sucking on a large ice chip on a hot summer day was a delight. Walnut Park was the last St. Louis neighborhood to have horse-drawn milk delivery wagons. Two dairies thrived in that area. 

My Italian grandpa, who I called Pappy, died when I was five. He would sit on the front porch with me and drum his fingers on the rail.  "Listen, hear the horses clopping our way?"

Try as I may, I could never get my little hands to make that galloping sound. 

Too bad the neighborhood is a high crime area, too dangerous to drive through. I sure did leave my early childhood memories there.

I do not own the rights to this photo. But I am delighted to share it with you.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Forever in our hearts


Happy Mother's Day...remembering mom

My mom was 20 in this photo; she's holding me. If I cried and begged, Mom let me trail along with her when she visited neighbors. When I was school age she'd tell her lady friends, "You can say anything and talk freely in front of her, she never repeats anything. Linda's my little trooper." 
I had no idea what that meant, I didn't understand their girl talk, but I felt valued.
Mom loved me and my brother, born a year after me. She adored my first born who was her pride and joy, and then her first grandson. I also had a little boy for her to love. Then he grew up, married, and they had a little girl and boy.  

Nineteen years after my daughter was born, Mom's love tripled when Tracey became a mom, making my mom a great grandma to Ashley. To say Mom was obsessed with "her girl" would be an understatement. When Tracey had a baby boy, mom's love blossomed again.

I only wish she could have known Ashley's sweet little boys. Nana Ginny loved "her" babies.
 Mom was a petite, sometimes sweet, sometimes snappy spit fire who taught us about love and God. She was fun loving. She loved her family and we loved her. We miss you, Mom, today and everyday.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms in our family: my daughter, her daughter, my daughter-in-law and my step daughters. Thank you all for going when you've felt like quitting, smiling when you've felt like crying, and for taking outstanding care of my grands and great grandchildren. You all have a piece of my heart.

  • Sasee Magazine
    Features (This is a repost)

Becoming My Mother

By Linda O'Connell
Becoming My Mother
When I was a little girl I wore dress ups, played with baby dolls and emulated my mother. On hot summer evenings, I’d sit on the gentle sloping lawn, thick with clover flowers, and listen to my parents talk about the day’s events. While other moms wore make-up and teetered on high heels, mine never did. This morning as I slipped my feet into my new pair of wedges, the kind of shoes Mom used to wear, I took a nostalgic stroll.
I’m a freshman in high school. Mom and I wear each other’s clothes and swap purses. On Saturdays, we walk a mile to Cherokee Street, the six block shopping center with a variety of independently owned small variety and specialty stores. She forbids me to wear make-up like the other girls, but for the most part, Mom’s okay. She sits on my bed on Sunday mornings, and we talk like friends. She sure doesn’t act like a mom, I tell her. We enjoy one another’s company.
I’m a high school senior, and suddenly I don’t want to be anything like the woman I strongly resemble. Complete strangers stop us and comment that we look like sisters. The last thing I want to hear is, “You look just like your mother.” No matter how accurate the statement, there is a twenty year gap between us. I am my own person, seeking my own identity and independence. Soon, I plan to get married and start my own life. I cannot wait to get away from Mom’s restrictive rules.
I’m twenty-two, and Mom is forty-two. She walks a mile every other day to my house to adore and spoil her first granddaughter. They idolize one another. I enjoy Mom’s company again. I can do my own thing, wear make-up if I want. She’s always available to babysit at a moment’s notice. I feel blessed.
“Mom, why don’t you let me put make-up on you?” I beg until she finally gives in. I poof her bouffant hair, tint her lips, rouge her cheeks and smudge sky blue eye shadow across her lids. “There, let me see. You look beautiful,” I say. My puzzled expression makes her dash to the mirror.
“I look painted. This isn’t me,” she insists, but she leaves the make-up on to please me. As we sit across from one another dunking Danish – she always brings bakery goods – I can hardly bear to look into her face. One of her heavy eyelids sinks into the socket, and the blue eye shadow disappears into the fold. She looks like a clown with one bright, blue lid.
“You’re probably right, Mom, you look just great without make-up.” I reach for the cold cream.
Mom tells me that a little lipstick is good because as a woman ages it brightens her appearance. So I always wear lipstick, and Mom wears it only when she’s going out.
Mom tells me that a little lipstick is good because as a woman ages it brightens her appearance. So I always wear lipstick, and Mom wears it only when she’s going out. The other day she smiled at the neighbor with bright pink lips and no front teeth. She had forgotten her partial dental plate, and her mouth sunk in like a collapsed clay pot. I was totally embarrassed for her and myself. “I’ll never be like that!” I vowed. Mom is sixty; I am forty; my daughter is twenty, and her little girl is ripping wrapping paper off her first birthday presents. I overhear my daughter talking to my mom. “Gram, I adore you, but Mom drives me crazy! I hope I’m never like her.” I’m 55 and concerned as I stroll into Mom’s hospital room. What a place to celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday. I ask if she has a nail clipper, rummage through her purse, and discover a bottle of moisturizer and a razor wrapped in a paper towel. “What is this for?” I ask. She smiles self-consciously and taps above her top lip, rolls her eyes and says, “You just wait!”
No wonder her kisses often feel a bit abrasive. I shake my head and cringe. I hope I am never like Mom. She’s becoming a real embarrassment with her bristly lip, droopy lids, sometimes toothless grin and unfiltered comments.
She is surrounded by three generations singing happy birthday so loud the doctor pokes his head into her room and laughs at the sight of a birthday cake with candles ablaze. My sixteen year old granddaughter shares a confidence with Mom and me when her mother walks out of the room. “My mom doesn’t know anything! I can’t wait to go to college and get away from her!”
I chuckle and clean up the party mess. As I wash my hands, I look in the mirror and see that I bear a striking resemblance to my mother. I massage moisturizer into my facial creases and wonder when my eyelids got so heavy. I listen to the conversation in the room and smile when my daughter jokes, “Gram, we all have the same family traits: your sassy mouth and heavy eye lids.”
My sixteen year old granddaughter moans, “Mom, how embarrassing!” She utters the same phrase under her breath that has been repeated by four generations, “I hope I never act like you.”
I hug and kiss my children and grandchildren as they leave the hospital. After everyone departs, I walk over and plant a kiss on Mom’s wrinkled cheek and say, “I love you.” I expect her to reply with something sweet. Instead she says something profound. She taps her lip, points at mine and says, “Honey, my razor’s in my purse if you want to use it.” We laugh out loud.
Mom has always been a spunky, little, fun-loving woman who speaks her mind. I enter the hospital elevator, send up a silent prayer for her, rub the space above my top lip and chuckle.
Alone, I look at my reflection. Is that me or is that my mom? I see her in my mirror, and I hear her in my words. The age lines blur and I realize, I am becoming my mother.
When I look at my blogpost picture, I see my mom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Planting Paw Paw's Garden

 I so wish I had a photo to show you, but twenty-five years ago we didn't have cell phones available for instant picture taking. Let me tell you about a special garden and the love that grew in that garden.

Bill had torn his achilles heel, and had to have surgery. April weather teased with premature heat. 

His adult daughter was sitting in the kitchen talking to her dad. My granddaughter Ashley was seven and Kyle was three. Before his injury, Bill had tilled the garden in preparation for planting. He complained,
"I sure wish I could put in my garden, but it looks like this year I'm not going to be able to hobble out there and get the plants in the ground."

Ashley and Kyle asked for large serving spoons and headed outdoors to plant PawPaw's garden. We thought it was cute they were going to pretend to help. They ran in and out the door as we adults conversed. At some point Ashley discovered a full shopping bag filled with spring arts and crafts supplies. She somehow sneaked by us with it.

An hour later she and Kyle came indoors beaming proudly.

"PawPaw, come see. We planted your garden for you!"

He hobbled to the door and peered out at a garden filled with a variety of more than a hundred artifical flowers. It was the cutest thing EVER!