Friday, October 23, 2009


Dear Daddy,

Daddy. A child's name for her father. It was only in my childhood that I knew you, so I suppose it's natural that, in my deepest heart, that's how I think of you. I saw you only twice as an adult, that last time in 1985 at your mother's funeral.

I learned today in an email - an email! - that, at the age of 93, you have died. I once said that when you died at least you wouldn't be able to hurt me anymore. Because each day of my life I have borne the pain of your abandonment. I have tried to forget, but I never have.

Tonight, feeling the loss of you, I would choose to remember only the good. I would prefer to think of the tall, handsome Cowboy, the man who taught me to fish, taught me to shoot, the man whose love for the wild and the woods gives me such an appreciation for the places of trees and water and silence where I live today. I would choose, if I could, to remember only the pleasant times. The trips to the state fair, seeing Roy Rogers in person, the rides in the back of your truck down long, dark highways and the rides on the Ferris wheel when you kept me safe from my fears.

If I could, I would choose to remember only the man whose shoes I lovingly untied at night after you had worked long days. The man who always seemed larger than life, who was, when I was a child, my Hero. I would like to remember only how special I felt as a child that I - only I! - have the same dimple in my chin that you had. And how, secretly, I loved seeing that dimpled chin in my youngest son and youngest grandson, knowing that even unto the third generation there was a mark that connected me to you.

But into these thoughts and memories and secret treasures, reality will intrude. I'm compelled to remember the callous way you left us without food while you spent your time with your cronies. Your unconcern when we lost our home after you and mom divorced. Your refusal to see your daughters and your grandchildren when you last had the chance.

I can't escape the sorrow I have felt for my sons, for my niece and nephew, because they have never known a grandfather. When I told them you had died, none of them shed a tear; their only concern was for me and for my brother and sister. You, their grandfather, were only an abstraction. A man whom they knew I loved and missed having in my life, but who had no relationship to them.

Your loss was much greater than theirs. You have five wonderful grandchildren: four men and one woman who are the pride of their parents and were the joy of their granny's life - our mother, the woman you left to raise us alone. And from these five young people have sprung a new generation - your great-grandchildren. Beautiful, intelligent, loving young people who will only know you through the bitter screen of their mothers' vision. You could have been surrounded in your old age with love and joy and the knowledge that you live on. Your loss, but also theirs.

Your other sons, Rodney and Jimmie - your second family - will miss you, I am told. Perhaps your redemption was in being everything to them that you never were to us. I hope it was enough for you. I hope you found peace and solace in their world.

My heart is heavy tonight, but I am pondering how to mourn a man who left my life so many years ago. I certainly don't feel the raw, heart-rending grief I felt when mom died. I've had many, many years to absorb the sorrow of your loss. But this time, of course, is different. No longer can I hang onto even that very thin thread of hope for reconciliation. Oddly, I feel the loss of you afresh; it's almost as if a hole has been rent in the fabric of my life.

Daddy, I love you and I miss you. I pray that God will welcome you and hold you close. I pray that someday we will be reunited, and that all the pain and sorrow will be forgotten. I commend you to God. May you truly rest in peace.

Your daughter,


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Isn't she lovely?

I realized today that I really haven't written about my granddaughter since right after she was born! BAD Gran!

Since I resumed my role as Granny Nanny in mid-September, we've developed a comfortable routine .Briana and I crafted my schedule quite carefully, since I didn't want to completely give up my days with Addison. On Thursdays, when he's home from school, we enjoy putting puzzles together, playing games, and - when the weather allows - taking walks. One of our favorite pasttimes is for him to sit next to me while I feed Drew, and I read to him while he turns the pages. Once in a while we share the reading part, but it's all about being together!

Drew is a cutie, of course. I've never taken care of a girl-baby before, and was a bit apprehensive about diapering her girl parts, but I think I've got the hang of it now. Somewhat different from all my boys, but the mechanics of the operation are pretty much the same.

What I have found is that it's really hard to pass the sale racks in the baby department of our local store! I've bought things for all my grandsons, of course, but they were just never quite as cutes as onesies with ruffles on the butt. I do try to be judicious, though, since she has a ton of clothes that her mom got from friends with little girls. And when I say a "ton," please believe that it's not that far from the truth!

She's become very social and is getting more and more vocal, too. I love her cooing sounds, and she can blow and bubble quite well! Like her brother and several other family members, she's teething early and chews on anything she can get to her mouth. She's also mastered the art of thumbsucking, which is a good thing since she absolutely refused to take a pacifier!

She's sleeping now and I'm going to take advantage of the time to eat my lunch, but I knew you'd want to know all about her, right? I thought so!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall in the Northwest

Among all seasons, Fall is my favorite.

Having lived in Florida almost exclusively until I was 47, I grew up feeling somewhat deprived of all the seasonal changes I read about in my "Dick and Jane" primers, and even yearned for the cold, blustery, bone-chilling winters of Laura Ingalls in "Little House on the Prairie." In Florida, there are really only two seasons: summer and not-quite-summer. Let the thermometer drop below 70, and I was pulling out sweaters, wool skirts, and whatever could serve as a coat. I wanted cold!

I did spend one fall in Portsmouth, VA when I was 17, but was really not aware of the beauty of the season. I'm sure it must be lovely there in the fall, but I have no memory of it. And I spent another fall in Indianapolis in 1991, where I reveled in the beauty of the season, the chill in the air, the smells of woodsmoke. But when I moved to Portland in 1994, I truly soaked in the marvelous colors that grace our landscape as the weather begins to change.

I especially love to be on a winding mountain road this time of year, when the oaks, maples, and birches show off their glorious colors against a backdrop of graceful fir and pine trees. I love to watch the birds coming to our feeders and birdbath in search of food and drink - and a quick bath in the late afternoon. I love to watch the squirrels frantically digging places to hide their treasured food, knowing that they will only find it again by sheer luck; but knowing, too, that I will replenish their feeders during the fall and winter months, so they won't suffer hardship.

I love the way the sunlight comes through the trees in the afternoon; that's usually the first sign for me that the season is changing, and I always feel a thrill of anticipation when I first notice it. I love my quiet evenings with Jim in the family room, basking in the warmth of our woodstove and the joy of each other's company. I even like to cook in the fall - a big concession for me! I love the smells of pots of vegetables and beef, or Great Northern beans, and I enjoy the fragrance and taste of freshly-made applesauce.

Right now, as I sit in Ben & Briana's living room, I can see the tall trees swaying in the wind, their leaves sailing across the sky like small boats being tossed to and fro. I can see birds battling the currents of air as they seek a place to land and shelter from the rain that will be arriving soon.

There's something satisfying to me about this beautiful place I live as all of its inhabitants prepare themselves for the fallow season.

I love Fall best of all!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Branching out!

I started this blog last year because I like to write. I enjoy the creativity and increased brain activity that results from organizing my thoughts and from looking at the world around me as filled with stories - or blogs, in this case.

However, this expression that was initially intended to be devoted primarily to my children, grandchildren, travels, and life in general, has lately evolved into a political forum. And that's decidedly NOT what I want it to be!

On the other hand, I do have strong political opinions and I feel a need - perhaps even a responsibility - to express them. Therefore, I am branching out and invite those of you who are interested to participate in my new blog, From the Left Side of My Brain.

I will still post here, of course; after all, it's my first blog-love and the main focus of my life. But I will keep politics largely out of the picture here and indulge the other parts of my thinking processes.

I hope to see many of you in both places!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Memoriam (thank you, Peggy!)

I remember civility in public discourse. For all the mention made lately about the courtly references made by Members of Congress to those on the other side of the aisle, it's certainly preferable to name-calling and thinly-veiled threats.

I remember when religion and politics weren't discussed at social events - or even within families if there were strong feelings on both sides.

I remember when children's eyes didn't have to be sheltered from television ads and bumper stickers.

I even remember when the only bumper stickers on the road were from your high school or college - and they didn't tell me that your kid was an honor student or could beat someone else up.

I remember when the doctor came to the house, and if you couldn't pay him in full you could pay a little as you could - and he didn't send dunning notices.

I remember when our elected politicians were treated with respect, even if they didn't really deserve it; the respect was for the office, not the person.

I remember when a newsman, Walter Cronkite, was among the most trusted people in the nation, and when we believed what we heard on the news.

I remember when the only people who said "fuck" were "hoods," and they only said it quietly and to peers; certainly not out loud on the street in front of children.

I remember when a kid who misbehaved in class was sent to the office, and then got punished again when he got home.

I remember when only kids who lived in the country rode a school bus; the rest of us walked or rode our bikes. It was safe enough to do that.


I also remember when all of my classmates were white, like me.

And when my Jewish classmates were part of a chorus that sang Christmas songs, and we never heard of a dreidl.

And when my mother was denied a job, because they gave it to a man who had a family to support. She did too, but that didn't enter into their reasoning.

And when girls who got "in trouble" were sent away to have their baby, often forfeiting their education.

And when bathrooms were separate for "whites" and "colored." Water fountains, too.

And when incestuous actions were covered up and the victim was blamed.

It was the best of time; it was the worst of times...
Charles Dickens

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm pissed-Part II

(Warning: This post may make you angry. If you agree with me, I hope it makes you angry enough to take some action. If you disagree, that's okay; this country is great because we can disagree publicly with each other and with our elected officials.)

So, Chicago lost their bid to bring the 2016 Olympics to the US. According to the voices on the far right, this is a GOOD thing. Why was it a good thing? Well, because in their mean-spirited world they perceive this loss to be an indictiment of the President's powers of persuasion, and they are gleefully chuckling and applauding this decision, despite the anticipated boost it would have given the US economy. Oh, and also despite the fact that, just last year, George W. Bush (you may recall he was the darling of the Right) strongly supported Chicago's bid, saying that the Olympics were "really...coming to America."

Rush Limbaugh, the head of the Republican Party, was gleeful over the loss. Michelle Malkin, the press secretary for the right, was her usual mean girl self. And Fox News actively campaigned against Chicago's bid.

Now all of this may be surprising, in light of the fact that the GOP loves to claim that they are the only true patriots. One would think that promoting one's country would be a normal outgrowth of such patriotism. Instead, the far right's so-called patriotism is far more interested in finding petty adolescent joy in anything that - in their eyes - diminishes the man who was elected by the majority of Americans to lead this country. But, perhaps, not so surprising when you remember that Limbaugh is the man who stated that he hopes this President fails.

So there you have it: Situational Patriotism. As defined (by me): Love of and/or devotion to one's country, as long as everything goes my way.