A few things have happened over the last several months that I have been neglecting my bit of the internet.
Of note: We bought a house, have started all sorts of house projects, finished a few, planned to tackle others, etc.
I continue to read books of varying quality, and am part of a book club that is probably the best thing since sliced bread.
This post shall be dedicated to my book club, which I love dearly deep down in my heart cockles. I feel like we probably need super hero capes and masks to properly indicate the awesomeness of this group of ladies to the world. Others will know how fantastic they are by their usage of brightly colored lycra and knee high patent leather boots.
The conversations we have are political, religious, boozy, funny, silly, serious, commiserating, book oriented, life oriented, nothing oriented, and generally fantastic. This book club has subjected me to some of the worst: “Room” and best: “The Fault in Our Stars” books I wouldn’t have read without their impetus. I’ve never stumbled upon a better group of friends or developed such a deep appreciation for other people in a short number of months.
A few highlights: Pope Joan: A Novel, and The Fault in Our Stars. Go read them both.
Although I am not a Minnesotan, this video does signify some of the tendencies of my stalwart midwestern people.
As I wrote about on this blog, I lost my paternal grandmother in October 2010 and maternal grandmother in February 2011. In those losses, I realized that I have not taken the time that I want to with my grandparents, despite how much I love them. I would ask my mom how they were on the phone, but not take that step to call myself. I resolved to avoid that regret with my maternal grandfather, so I write him letters. I try to write every week, but often end up writing every other week. He knows I am busy and well intentioned, so he doesn’t mind if they are a little sporadic.
At first, they felt incredibly self indulgent, because it’s not a back and forth correspondence. Grandpa doesn’t have the hand dexterity for it. So, I write about H, about work, about books I’m reading and all sorts of random things that I think and do, like going to the apple orchard or building bookshelves. My great aunt also lost her person in my grandma, so I have started sending her letters as well. They’ve both expressed how they appreciate them. It’s amazing to me how much they retain from my little stories and anecdotes. They ask about my coworkers, my experiences, and the things I mentioned in passing in these letters because they stick with them. My grandpa told my mom that he reads the letters at least three times, just to make sure he gets everything out of them.
To the three people who actually read this little blog, I would petition that you write letters to your grandparents. The world of the young is big, busy, and full of dynamic motion. Sharing even a little photograph of that with the men and women we love whose days have slowed down is a simple thing that will be a source of happiness, connection, and love for you and for them.
I still haven’t seen Amanda Seyfried’s Little Red Riding Hood movie, but I have heard this song, and it has been in my head on a loop for days, so here you go. It’s spectacular.
My grandmother passed away suddenly at the end of February. It has been a hard several months for my mom, me, and all of our family, getting over the shock, moving my grandfather into a nursing home, and prepping the house for an estate sale. I went in July to help my family with more organization in the house. My aunt and mother weren’t able to clean her bureau. They’ve just been unable to do it, because it screamed her name so loudly. I was given the task of going through her hair spray, perfume, and a lot of the things that made her so much herself.
In the process, I found a tube of lip stick that belonged to her, half used, and a bottle of perfume that smelled so much like her that I could hardly bear it. I put the lip stick on, because why not. Who doesn’t wear their dead grandmother’s lipstick? (See, I told you this was idiosyncratic.) I kept it. I was able to throw the other perfumes away, but the one that smelled so much of her, Spellbound, couldn’t go. I cried and told my mom that someone has to keep it, but that I can’t do it. It was pitiful. I put it on the dresser and prepared to go, as my husband and I were on our way back home, which is an eight hour drive from the house. Finally I decided to take it home with me, clutching it in my fist as we left that day.
It’s now in my stuff drawer. It’s a drawer in my house with head bands, nail polish, a few bottles of perfume and other beauty stuff that I don’t use every day. I’ve had it for a few weeks and smelled it twice. Both times I have been almost bowled over with memories and missing her. I can’t see her little face anymore. I can’t hug her or hold her beautiful, little, arthritic hand, but I can smell that perfume and remember her. I loved my Grandma, very much.
Today is International Women’s Day! 2011 is an especially important year because it is the centenary. This year’s theme is Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women. There are about 1700 official events taking place all over the world in celebration of IWD, including a celebration cosponsored by Google where women are meeting on bridges all over the world to show solidarity and support for women’s issues. The Public Service Announcement I’ve included is one of my favorite pieces of awareness for IWD. It highlights some of the staggering statistics that still plague social progress for women in education, economic stability, and the dangers of becoming a parent, not to mention the difficulty of entering political office and domestic abuse.
Although I like the PSA really well, I think that every day should be International Women’s Day. If people don’t fight for women every day strides are lost, a bit at a time. It’s important to think about women’s issues for all of us because it effects all of us.
My grandmother passed away suddenly on February 27th, 2011. She was 82 years old. Her obituary is posted here. Those of you who have read this blog for a bit will know that my paternal grandmother passed away in October after a fight with dementia and congenital heart disease. It has been a difficult winter in my family for grandmothers. The doctors are guessing that she had a heart attack, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
H and I took the week off from work and drove home. We spent a few days cleaning, sorting, and organizing everything to make sure that my grandfather’s transition into the nursing home will be as easy as possible. They were married for 63 years, which is impressive by anyone’s standards. She will be remembered as a kind soul and excellent caregiver. I will miss her immensely and am sad that I did not make more effort to call them on a regular basis. I know that death sneaks up on us all, but I hope this will be an opportunity for me to be a better grandchild to my grandpa.
I have been considering a tattoo of the words, “Sometimes when you fall, you fly” as a reminder to myself to be brave, a sentiment from which most of us could benefit. I think now, I may incorporate a bit of my grandmothers into that tattoo. As they were named Violet and Ruby, I am thinking I will put two flowers with the words. A purple Viola odorata for Grandma Violet and a Viola Cornuta Arkwright Ruby for my Grandma Ruby.
I am grateful that she had an easy passing without pain or difficulty, but it doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. I plan to start writing to my grandfather every week, too. I want to make sure he feels loved, because he has lost half of himself, which would be devastating at any time, but especially after 63 years of marriage and without warning.