Friday, October 31, 2008

Baking for the PTA

I got home late.

I hadn't eaten.

The kids were wound up, not yet in pajamas and their lunches weren't made.

[Sisyphus? I know how you feel!]

K wrangled the kids into their sleeping garb and read them stories while I ate cold cereal and packed up the next day's lunches.

Then I remembered....

"Sh*t! I have to bake!"

[I got suckered by the Pre-K PTA.]

I agreed to bake a cake for the Fall Festival.


When I agreed to bake, I decided I would make my Grandma K's Lemon Pound Cake with Walnuts (without the walnuts because nuts are banned from the land of the short people).

I e-mailed my Dad and asked for the recipe and, once he sent it, I purchased the ingredients.

It wasn't until I stood before the pre-heated oven and the greased bundt cake pan that I actually READ the recipe he sent.

[Which, unfortunately, confused me greatly.]

I tried calling my Dad at home and on his cell phone.

[Dad access = FAIL.]

I tried calling his sister, my Aunt Dorothy.

[WHO DOESN'T ANSWER HER CELL PHONE WHILE PLAYING CANASTA!!]

Next, I called my cousin Gary and his wife Judy answered.

This is how she answered the phone,

"Hal-low?  What? Wait. Listen, I'm forty-five years old and I'm going through some CHANGES right now, okay. I just got my period. It was two weeks late and it feels like everything down there is going to fall right out on the floor.  I've been up since 2:30 in the morning and I'm covered in glitter and glue and I'm trying to make a Heat Miser Halloween costume for a sixteen year old. What do YOU want?"

[Ha ha ha ha ha.]

I tried to be empathetic.

"I feel you," I said.

"Oh, I don't think so. No, no, no. You definitely DO NOT. Call me back when yours are teen-agers!"

I told her why I was calling.

"Oh, please," she said.  "I do NOT bake."

Judy suggested I call my cousin Jeffrey and then she started swearing.

"This glue is giving me a damned headache!"

I bid Judy a polite goodbye and called my cousin Jeffrey.

Jeffrey had a vague idea that the cake recipe involved a package of lemon pudding mix.

[Then he told me that he thought Sarah Palin was cute.]

"Did you try my mom?" he asked.

"Yeah, I tried her first, but she didn't pick up."

"Oh, right. Canasta."

[There was a pause.]

"You could try calling Aunt Gladys," he said and he gave me her phone number.

Aunt Gladys, one of my Grandma K's sisters, is famous for telling extremely raunchy jokes and pretending she doesn't understand why they're naughty.

I glanced at the clock.  

It was getting later and later and I hadn't even started the cake.

I was desperate.

"When do you have to make this cake?" Jeffrey asked me.

"Right now," I answered.  "I'm in PTA hell."

"It's due tomorrow?  You waited until the last minute?"

[Uh... yeah.]

"Well, who's gonna eat the cake?" Jeffrey asked.

"What do you mean? I don't know who's going to eat it," I said.

"So why don't you just follow the directions on the cake mix box and forget about Grandma's recipe?"

[Blink. Blink.]

"Okay, Jeffrey.  You've talked me down."

I'M COMING DOWN FROM THE LEDGE NOW PEOPLE!!!

And I am listening to a self-help tape...

"Repeat after me... I do not have to be a baking over-achiever for the PTA...now try that a few more times..."


"I do not have to be a baking over-achiever for the PTA..."


"I do not have to be a baking over-achiever for the PTA..."


"I do not have to be a baking over-achiever for the PTA..."

Everything is going to be just fine.






Thursday, October 30, 2008

It Is Really Good

"Loving you is really, really good," she said.

[I tried to ignore the fact that she was sitting on the potty creating THE MOTHER OF ALL TODDLER POOPS during this conversation.]

"I like loving you too, Roo.  It's one of my favorite things to do."

"Tell me about when you cried when I came out of your tummy," she said.

"Well, when you were in my tummy, I didn't know if you were a boy or a girl.  When you finally came out, they laid you on my chest and they told me you were a girl.  I was so happy that I cried and cried."

[We no longer have to go over and over the fact that sometimes people cry when they're happy and not just when they're sad.]

The Rooster beamed at my description. She likes hearing that I was happy to see her when she arrived.

"And when I was a baby, did you love me so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so..."

[The "so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so's" went on for a LONG time.]

"...so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much?"

"I did love you so much, and every day since then I've loved you a little bit more."

"I like loving you and Dada the best, Mama.  It's really, really... it's just really good."

"I think so too, Roo.  Every day."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blonde

Over the weekend, The Mayor studied the photos in the newspaper's sports section.

"How can this be, Mama?" he asked pointing to a photo of a quarterback.

"What, Mayor?  How can what be?" I asked looking at the picture.

"How can the skin on his throwing arm be brown and the skin on his other arm be blonde?"

A trick of the light made The Mayor think the quarterback was somehow bi-racial, literally, that one half of him was black and the other half white.

Admittedly, the photo did kind of look that way.

I pointed to the picture.

"One of his arms is hidden in shadow and the other arm is extended in sunlight."

I smiled thinking about The Mayor's choice of words, the way he used brown and blonde to describe skin color the same way he would talk about the color of hair. 

Next time I'm asked to check a box to indicate my race, I'm going tick "other" and write,

"Blonde."





Monday, October 27, 2008

Brothers Look Weird

When we were little, my brother was always dressing up.


If you met him as an adult, you might find this hard to imagine. These days my brother most often wears a tough shell, but in the 1970's... he had hats.

He had a policeman's hat and a fireman's hat and was routinely "rescuing" someone or otherwise saving the day.

Lacking the proper costume was never an issue for him, he was good at improvising.

I remember coming home once to find him wrapped in a bed sheet that was belted around his waist.  On his head he wore a pillow case turban and he brandished a sword with a remarkable resemblance to a wrapping paper tube.

When my mother asked what he was doing, he shouted,

"I am El KaBar!"

He had been watching a some sort of Nights of Arabia movie and was inspired to transform himself into a Middle-Eastern warrior.

I remembered all this about my brother on Sunday morning when, in a fit of last minute birthday present desperation, I was left with no choice but to brave a trip to the local Whale*Mart.

I asked The Mayor to get dressed and the next thing I knew there was a four year old fireman riding backwards on the front end of my shopping cart as I careened up and down the aisles of the Super Center.

["Super" being decidedly subjective in this case.]

It was my job to shout,  "Woooo  Ooooo Wooooo Oooooo Wooooo!" approximating the siren sound for our hook and ladder truck (formerly known as the cart).

[The things parenthood makes us do in public!]

Later in the day, The Mayor reminded me of my brother again.

Having received a toy eye patch in his crap-tastic-plastic-filled, birthday party goodie bag, The Mayor decided to dress up like a pirate.

I think it was the navy, corduroy blazer with elbow patches, the fireman boots and the baseball bat sword that really made the outfit for me.

The Mayor stood in front of the mirror practicing various pirate faces and generally admiring his costume design skills when The Rooster approached.

She planted herself in front of him and gave him a full, head-to-toe appraisal.

Then she looked him in the eye and said without regret,

"You look weird."

I wonder if my brother will read this blog today.  If he does, he'll be reminded of me.


Pirate Mayor, October 26, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rooster Tricks

I don't get it.

Every night, I read you three books, hug you, kiss you and put you into bed.


Very specifically, IN THE BED.

You are so quiet in there.

I think you must be sleeping sweetly.

Oddly, when I check in on you later, you are surrounded by toys and passed out on the floor.



Rats! You tricked me AGAIN!

Gah!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Redemption Song


In response to my post, someone asked me what I really thought was going to change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the question.

I suppose I believe that having a Democrat in office will change our national direction on a number of policies and issues that are important to me.

I’m voting for the Democratic candidate because my beliefs most closely align with those of the Democratic Party.

I am voting for Barack Obama solely because I believe he is the candidate that best represents my policy interests.

That said, the possibility of seating a Democrat in the White House doesn't completely capture why I’m so excited about this particular election.   

It's not the Democratic Party, their policies or even Barack Obama that makes me well up with hope.

It’s our country, it’s us.

I’m fantastically excited about what it might mean for our national culture if we elect a person of color as President.

Just think what an historic milestone that would represent...

Think of the progress we could make if more white Americans learned to accept, follow – even embrace - leadership from African Americans and more broadly, people of color.

While we have made many strides since the civil rights movement, our nation continues to struggle with issues of race.

Obama winning feels like it could be good medicine.

I think we need this.

We need to be unified, across our differences.

What was that Aesop said?  

Oh, yes...

United we stand, divided we fall.  

I believe in that.

One nation.  Under God.  Indivisible.  With liberty. And justice. For all.

I’m out-of-my-mind with excitement because there is an increasing possibility that  we are on the verge of breaking down a barrier, crossing into a new frontier, and charting new territory.

I can't predict exactly how a change in our national ethos of race might look, but I am hopeful that American racial politics will change for the better.

I weep tears of joy at the sheer possibility.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Solder This, Honkey!

For my birthday present this year, K gave me a gift certificate to take a six session course with a silversmith.

Our first project is to make a silver ring with a semi-precious stone in a bevel setting.

For some reason every time I mention this class to people they say,

“Oh, you’re doing a handicraft.”

So I want to go on the record right here, right now and say that I do not like the word “handicraft.”  

It makes me think of “panty”.

Do not say handicraft to me.

I’m learning a SKILL, okay?

So anyway, the teacher suggested we take notes.

At first, I was all, 

“Honkey, PLEASE!”

But then she started to invoke π.

[I can’t even tell you how long it took me to find Pi on the keyboard.]

You’d better believe that when the mathematical formulas involving Pi started flying out of her mouth, I got down to the business of note taking.

Then I had to raise my hand.

“Yes, Jessica?”

“Uh… how do you spell soddering?”

[Sautering? Sawtering? WTH??!!]

“S-O-L-D-E-R-I-N-G.”

My classmate snickered.  

She KNEW how to spell it.

Whatever.

No one’s going to give ME a hard time in HANDICRAFTS class.

“Oh, WHAT?  Like I have to know how to spell that in every day life?”

[Honkey, PLEASE.]

[Honkey, please is my new favorite phrase. Bear with me.]

I have spent the last 36 hours trying to think of ways to mainstream the word “soldering”.

My best idea so far is to use it in meetings at work.

You know infuse it into the corporate mumbo jumbo.

“We need to solder this revenue stream to our profit portfolio.”

I’m totally going to get a raise.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Protective Instincts

"Mama, help," he said.

I was washing dishes, up to my elbows in soap suds, when I turned to look.

The chord from the blinds was wrapped tightly around his neck.

I must have looked panicked because he said,

"It's okay.  I can breathe."

The next thing I knew, I was kneeling in front of him unwinding the chord and sobbing.

He looked confused and worried.  I'm pretty sure he's never seen me react quite that way.

I tried to pull him in close after I got the chord off but he wouldn't let me.  He was busy  concentrating on my face.

I kept repeating, 

"Please don't ever do that... please don't ever do that again."

The Mayor pushed me gently back and put his hands around my face.

"What is it, Mama? Why are you crying?"

I tried to explain that he could get hurt and that he should never wrap anything around his neck but my crying had frightened him and I don't think he could connect my reaction to my words.

"Are you mad at The Mayor?" The Rooster asked.

She was also startled and looking at me curiously.

Hell, even I was a little startled by my extremely emotional response.

"No, Roo.  I'm not mad at him.  I just got scared.  That SCARED me," I told them, still crying.

Something about the possibility of The Mayor strangling himself coupled with the visual image of him trapped in the chord rendered me instantly hysterical.

It was so visceral, so instantaneous.

"Promise that you won't tell Daddy," The Mayor begged.

I agreed not to tell, but later I asked him about this request.

"Why don't you want me to tell Dad, Mayor? Are you afraid he'll be angry and you'll get in trouble?"

The Mayor shook his head.

"No, mom.  I'm worried that it will make him as sad as it made you."

He looked at me and seemed so completely earnest.

 "I don't want there to be anymore crying in our family."



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On The Red Hills of Georgia

Lately, I'm so filled with hope I can hardly stand it.


Literally, I get goosebumps when I think about what might happen and what it might mean for us.

For all of us.

As I've been driving around and leading my predictable, little life, I've noticed an ever increasing density of yard signs.

Obama...  Obama...   Obama...   Obama....

Right here in Georgia!

I don't think I've ever been as excited about a Presidential election before.

On the night of the second debate, Molly, Michele, myself and six other women threw a fundraiser, raised $2,600 and sent it off to Chicago.

I'd never done anything like that either.

This weekend I went to an event organized so moms could learn how to volunteer to support the election.  

[It was held at the local jumpy place and both admission and pizza were free for the kids. It was a GENIUS idea. The place was packed.]

Obama...  Obama...   Obama...   Obama....

When I was recently in Virginia, I saw my cousin Cary.  

He was my childhood hero and he'll always be dear to me, however...

Cary is a die-hard conservative.


As the two of us waited in line for homemade country ham biscuits, the last of the season's butter beans and all the other covered dish masterpieces the ladies of the church had laid out, he said,

"Much as I hate to admit it, I don't think my boy stands a chance."

My jaw nearly hit the floor.  It is wholly unlike Cary to concede anything when it comes to the Republican Party.

"I'm kind of looking forward to the Obama administration," he said.  "It will be fun to watch them dig themselves into a hole."

That was my opening.

"If you're looking forward to it so much," I said, "can I get you to vote for him?"

He gave me The Look.

I don't want to count any chickens... I've always thought that was bad luck, but more and more I keep thinking...

"Is this really happening?  Are we really going to do it?"

I find myself grinning like an idiot, feeling hopeful about the future.


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Luke, I Am Your Father

Lately, The Mayor's been interested in my boobs.


He inches his way up to them at story time.

He s-l-o-w-l-y positions himself so that a hand is resting on one.

Boys.

Y'all are all the same.

Last night during story time I called him on it.

"Mayor, you've been touching my boobs a lot lately."

"Boobies!!!" he said.

"Is that it?  You're a boob man? You like boobs better than anything else?"

He pulled away and looked at me as though I had lost my damned mind.

"No, Mom.  I like Darth Vader better than anything else."

Vader 1, boobs 0.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Paging Dr. Colon to the White Courtesy Telephone

At my recent lady parts check up, the doctor inserted the instrument resembling a duck-billed platypus in the... South Pole and started pushing down on my abdomen.

"This may be a little cold."

[Oh. The. Joys.]

Every time the Doctor pushed on my right side I yelled,

"OW!"

[Because there was a sharp pain.]

SNAP! 

Just like that, I was scheduled for an ultra-sound.

[Not the friendly, top-of-the-belly kind either.]

I'm all for following up, and making sure, however...

Anyone who knows me could tell you that what MOST LIKELY caused the pain in my abdomen was my plentiful, yet hidden, cache of pure horsepower -- more abundant than the resources that lie beneath The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

My very own stash of subterranean... uh... energy reserves.

One really shouldn't push down on it, you know?

I think I am about to be diagnosed with a whopping case of eating far too many raw carrots.




Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Project Runway In The Countryside

With the usual three year old level of tact and grace, The Rooster said,


"Grandma! Your tights don't match your dress."

[Heh.]

Grandma Seattle, infamous fashionista and garment over-achiever, got her rock star on in the country last weekend.

She wore a dress like this:



With tights like these:



She slipped super high-heeled, charcoal colored, oxford pumps laced up with black ribbons on her feet and giant, prescription, white rimmed aviator sunglasses on her face.

[Very rock star.]

Despite my daughter's critique, she looked very New York Chic to me.

The kink in the plan around this particular outfit was that we were destined for a teeny, tiny church in an extremely rural part of Virginia.

We spent the weekend in Virginia for a homecoming celebration held by my grandparent's community church for the purpose of dedicating their new fellowship hall.    The Rooster and I joined my mother, her siblings and other family members for the gathering.

In the church yard after the service, I caught my cousin Cary staring at my mom's outfit.

I watched him, grinning, until he noticed he was caught.

"You know," he said, "the church ladies are going to talk about your mama's get up for weeks."

"Well," I said, "maybe that's a good thing. It will save them from talking about each other and she's leaving town tomorrow and won't care."

"Now that," he said with a look of optimism, "is a very good point."



********************

Pssst.

Remember Molly?

She started her own blog

Wave your hands in the air and shout....... 

"Squeeeeeeeeee!"


Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm Here All Week, Folks...

This post is dedicated to my friend William and to my Dad.  
[Because they both say crap like this all the time.]

I was at my Granny &  Ady’s house this weekend for a homecoming thing at their church.

This morning, I was making scrambled eggs and my Mean, Old Aunt Nancy was making toast.

Granny’s toaster can do four slices of toast at a time -- one lever controls two toast slots and the other two slots are controlled by another lever.

I heard my Aunt fiddling and fussing with the toaster.

She started to mumble to herself.

“Damn it,” she swore.  “This side ejects the toast. Why won’t the other side eject it?”

“Hmmm…sounds like an ejectile dysfunction,” I said.


[Insert rim shot sound here.]

Next week... The Poconos!



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Two By Two

There was a swift and drastic economic downturn. 

The Family Joy's life savings was greatly reduced.

Alan Greenspan declared this the worst economy ever seen.

The Family Joy quaked in fear.

There was no sign of the bottom.

"What will happen next?" we asked.  How far will we fall?"

Then it rained endlessly. 

Great walls of sheeting rain pounded our city all day.

In the evening, The Mayor came home from school and said,

"Mommy, I have a secret, private name. Do you know what it is?"

"No, Mayor," I said. "What is it?" 

He gave me a conspiratorial look and said, 

"NOAH."

[Oh, The IRONY.]

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Passing

I did not and do not believe that the dead, that the long dead and disintegrated Shmiel and Frydka somehow reached out from the ether and pointed us, that day, to Beolekhiv and then Stephan and then Prokopiv and then the house and then the women and then the hiding place, the hole in the ground, the awful box, where they had once cowered in the cold and failed, finally at their bid for survival.  
But I do believe in some things.  I, to whom a friend had listened, quietly and sometimes in tears, one night in September 2001, when I’d just returned from our first trip to Ukraine and was telling the story of what we’d found there after all that time; had listened to me weeping and finally said, I’m crying because my grandfather died two years ago and now it’s too late to ask him anything; I did and do believe, after all that I’ve seen and done, that if you project yourself in to the mass of things, if you look for things, if you search, you will, by the very act of searching, make something happen that would not otherwise have happened, you will find something, even something small, something that will certainly be more than if you hadn’t gone looking in the first place, if you hadn’t asked your grandfather anything at all.  
I had finally learned the lesson taught me, years after they’d died, by Minnie Spieler and Herman the Barber.  There are no miracles, no magical coincidences.  There is only looking, and finally seeing, what was always there.

I am home sick today.

I spent most of the day in bed finishing Daniel Mendelsohn’s book revealing what he learned when he searched for the truth about six lost relatives.

I found it a little bit ironic to be reading about the dead, The Lost, today of all days.


There is a place in the book where the author’s mother reminds him of the day his own grandmother died.

After a long day at her hospital bedside, they finally decided to leave and were in the hospital lobby when something made his mother decide to turn back, to “look at Nana one more time.”

When they returned, a nurse told them that she had just died.

“And I went in the room and I went on my knees by the bed and I said, Mama, Mama, don’t leave me, don’t leave me, I still need you.”  

I was reminded of myself, one year ago today, holding my grandmother's hand in her darkened hospital room crowded with machinery.

Her delicate fingertips  seemed to be the only part of her left unbroken.

The memory of holding her hand strangely also symbolizes the way the whole day, and the whole year, really, was a struggle with holding on and letting go.

Holding on and letting go, clutch and release...

It’s been like walking in circles, while still moving forward.

A kind of progression I suppose.

I was struck when Mendelsohn’s book brought up the idea of being guided to the truth by the dead.

Though the author was less inclined to think so, over the last year I have been willing to believe in the presence of my grandmother – and also my grandfather- guiding me, helping me heal.


Last night driving home after dark, following an exhausting but good day with the children, I closed my eyes and there they were in their living room.

I was getting ready to leave their house after a visit… not any specific visit, any visit, as all visits to their house ended this way...

I would hug them both and then they would stand on the stoop and wave as I drove away.

Last night I could feel my grandmother’s arms around me. 

I could physically remember her, the touch of her, the feeling of her embrace.

When she pulled away, I said,

“No.  Hold me a moment longer.  I can feel you.”

So she did.

In my minds eye, I saw them waving as I drove away and I kept on, I keep on looking back and yet, I carry on also moving forward.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

diastole and systole

It was fall and we were lying on a blanket in Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester County.


Joseph had recently discovered that K and I were having an affair. 

When Joseph said he was moving out, that our marriage was over, he was so calm. 

I can't remember why I went to New York.

I think I felt so unhinged that I decided to visit my friend Therese who was living in Chinatown and feeling a bit lost herself.
 

K happened to be in New York at the same time visiting his mother.

I went out to her house in the suburbs to see him for a night.
 

There might not be anywhere more beautiful than the Hudson River Valley in the fall, but enjoying myself was a bit out of reach. 

My life, as it had been, was falling apart. 

Whether or not that was a good thing remained to be seen and I was afraid. 

Stretched out on a blanket in the crisp air with colorful leaves falling all around us, K read a poem to me.

To Have Without Holding
Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind 
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously, 
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

I remember smiling at the idea of "love with the doors banging on their hinges."

I pictured a whole house full of doors and shutters banging madly away.

As crazy about him as I was, K's doors and shutters seemed open, but only just.

They were definitely NOT banging on any hinges.

It would be years before he trusted me enough to love differently.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Letters From My Parents

At different times in my adult life I have wanted to feel closer to both my mother and my father.


I spent a lot of time angry at my mom before I became a mother myself.


Once, in an effort to make things better, she flew here from Seattle and arranged a family therapy visit for the two of us.


I was skeptical and irritated.


What could a therapist do for us in one session?


Pssssshhhh.


What the therapist suggested was that I write down a list of questions for my mother.


I was allowed to make them as difficult or personal as I wanted.


I was instructed to give the list to my mother when I finished composing it.


My mother's job was to write her answers to each question at the rate of one per week.


She was asked to send me one answer per week in writing.


We then had to set up a standing weekly phone date to discuss the most recently answered question.



The therapist asked my mother to answer questions for as many weeks as it took to answer them all.



This process was hard, but ultimately helpful.


Discussing the things that I thought were difficult subjects made me more open towards her and then ready for the way that the damn broke after my children were born.


Once I became a mother myself, I began to see what my mother's perspective might be (or might have been) on so many of the issues that previously filled me with rage.


Our relationship softened and improved.


These days I would even call it good... healthy.


[Though I should really call her more often. I blame the children.]


More recently, I found myself digging in an old box of saved letters where I found mountains from my Father.


He used to write me long letters.


Some of them were funny, some sad and some were stories from his childhood.


I loved these letters and realized he hadn't sent me any in a while.


I asked him if he would start writing to me again and he asked for a list of topics.


[No problem.]
  1. When did you first understand death or what is your first memory of death?
  2. Tell me the story of my birth from your perspective.
  3. Your first memories of your children telling you they loved you (or something else sweet).
  4. How you coped/adjusted with your children growing up and becoming independent of you – what is the transition like – from being their everything when they are little – to them having families of their own and being far away?
  5. What family rituals or traditions did you love – either in your parents house, in the family that you made or both? What do you miss?
  6. Who was your best friend in school? What happened to him/her? What stories can you tell about your escapades with him? (or her.)
  7. What irrational fears do you have?
  8. What is a story that reveals something about whatever you think is your own greatest weakness?
  9. How would you characterize your relationship with your mother? Your father?
  10. What special memories do you have about your grandparents? What were they like? How did they meet? What did they do? How did they die? What was your life arc with them like?
  11. What do you remember about being a new parent?
  12. How would you describe and define your relationship to faith? What were your experiences of faith as a child and how have the shaped the adult you have become?
  13. What defines you? What things, experiences, or whatever make you feel like you and why?
  14. We love our individual children differently. How did that play out for you?
  15. What do you remember about the emergence of civil rights having grown up / come of age in the 1960’s?
  16. Vietnam? Same as above.
  17. Tales from the campground…
  18. Foibles of the Family Vacation…
  19. Greatest disappointments…
  20. Greatest achievements…
  21. What is the life trajectory of your relationship with your sister?
  22. What were your experiences of becoming integrated with your in laws?
  23. Favorite birthday memories…
  24. What do you remember about bedtime routines?
My Dad started writing to me again.


[Though he is only on his eighth question or something and has taken a bit of a hiatus. Get crackin', Dad!]

I remembered all this writing that I have asked of my parents to do when I read Jen's post called Tick Tock that she posted on One Plus Two recently.

Jen's experiences and mine aren't the same but I understood her sentiment. Communicating with parents can sometimes feel so hard.

Jen is someone I know and love in real life.

I wish I knew what path would lead her through her own struggle.

My friendship will have to do.

**********************

I nominated Jen's post Tick Tock for a Perfect Post Award this month.

The Original Perfect Post Awards 09.08



Next month make sure you recognize a post you found perfect with this award...

All you need to do is e-mail Mamma K -- Petroville(at)gmail(dot)com -- and ask her to put you on the Perfect Post mailing list.

She'll e-mail you every month when it's time to send in your Perfect Post pick.

See all the Perfect Posts at Petroville or Suburban Turmoil.