Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy Birthday, Amy

As far as I'm concerned, if they end in a zero or five, they're BIG. So, CONGRATULATIONS, Amy, on a BIG ONE:


Amy's birthday is today but yesterday was when we all were together, at Nicholas' soccer game. Dennis had just flown into Atlanta on Friday.

And yes, even Mark was there again, in the wings of Dennis' hearty laugh.

With every passing week, that BLB (Big Little Boy) seems to understand a bit more about soccer!

He even got to throw in and managed to barely keep both feet on the least once.

He is definitely his mommy's boy!

And since it was his daddy's weekend to have him, we all shared a few minutes of love together, watching as Nicholas gave Mommy his present.

Celebrations like this are good for the soul. Memories to last a long time. We all feel so incredibly fortunate to have you in our life, Miss Amykins. Blessed was the day when you were born all those 35 years ago!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Witty Professor

Okay, she's also a bit Nutty but at age 97, she's totally allowed, don't you think!

Auntie Sue. Last living relative from the generation above us. Born June 28, 1910. The 6-1/2-year-older sister of my dad.

My 1033-mile round trip from Atlanta to Bridgewater, VA, on Monday and Tuesday was well worth the 3-1/2 hours I spent with her. A handful of weeks ago she was on her deathbed, refusing food, drink and meds, except for Morphine. We thought we had lost her. So I made the decision to go see her "one last time," opting out for now rather than later at her funeral, in case it happens while I'm in Amsterdam.

But after being with her those 3-1/2 hours, we may have one stubborn aunt who decides to live to 100!

Now, pay attention. Think of anyone you know who almost never cracks a smile but everyone around is breaking up in stitches, laughing. That's Auntie Sue. Look carefully. That's a smile on her face and is about as big of a smile as you'd get at even half her age.

There it is again. So what is it about her?! Why does everyone in our family want to be around her. Why does she crack everyone up!

As I sat next to her recliner, facing her the entire time, it started hitting me what it is. For 3-1/2 hours there was not one minute of silence between us. If I wasn't talking, she was talking. I'd give her a chance to be quiet but she'd pop right in with something else.

After awhile, I started really paying attention to what she was saying and then it hit me. Her speech is loaded with witticisms. Things we don't normally hear in everyday speech. Or maybe we do, but when they come out of her genteel southern drawl, they just sound magical.

Pay attention. When her hand goes up to her forehead, something pretty important is ready to come out of her mouth.

Her mouth gets warmed up...

...and out it comes.

Oh yes, she then puts her stamp of approval on it...

...and that reminds her of something else.

During her 'nutty' times, you could see it in her eyes. She looked at her bed and wondered who had slept in IT last night. She said, "I'm going to have the time of my life working up this room tomorrow! I'm not too sure but I may call it quits here."

But then just like that, she'd turn to me and say "No one will have to rock YOU to sleep tonight" (remembering that I had just driven from Atlanta!).

She wanted to know what that monstrosity was in front of my face and I told her it was my camera. "Well, I sure hope I don't break THAT!" (HA! Me, too!)

Then off onto something else, like, "You know, when I was in the hospital, I remember seeing on TV that Ruth Graham was sick. Did she die?" I told her yes, but that Billy was still alive. "Well, he'll be next!"

Every time she went into this hand-over-face mode, I thought she was getting ready to nod off to sleep.

But no, a second later she'd rub her eyes and remember something new to say.

As I sat there, I took out a piece of paper and started writing things down....

A friend walked by the room with her walker and A.S said, "We've had our ups and downs, back-n-forths, and so on and so forth," and I thought, WOW. What better way to describe friendship!

"Fiddle sticks!.... Boy! I'm telling you!.... I can't keep up with everyone [when I told her about the different kids in the family].... I nearly dropped my teeth when I saw it this time [the dining room refurbished].... Turn about's fair play.... I had enough traveling last month. They sent me to Panama. I wouldn't have gone on my own [telling about having to go see the Army at the high school last month].... You can always do it but you can't un-do it!.... I've had every speck I want.... Now the thing that bothers me.... How in the world.... I was interested in it but not enough to worry about it. I don't know if you know that about me, that I don't worry very much...."

"Talking about that Army business.... I was the first to get on. What am I trying to say? They grouped us all together. We had a time. It was really something. They did such-n-such...."

"It always has been and, I'm sure, always will be a puzzle to me...."

At one point she wanted to know how many more grandGIRLS there were vs. grandBOYS by now. I did some quick math and came up with 22 g'girls and 16 g'boys. Her immediate response was "SIX!" Then she added, "I can't count." HA! The thing is, she CAN. Later she told me that all that used to be important to her was "NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS." When I said she was a mathematician and that that was unusual for girls in her time, she said, "Oh, not for me. I was all about numbers."

She told me that last month she really went through the wringer. "I wouldn't ever want to do that again if my life depended on it!"

"They do have good food here. There's no joke about that!"

"I can't even remember when.... I have no idea.... I started to say something.... I don't know.... Boy, I'll tell ya.... All I know is.... I don't know what I'm talking about. What am I trying to say.... I might as well shut up!"

NO NO NO, Aunty Sue. Please don't ever shut up. PLEASE DON'T EVER SHUT UP.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Mission

On the heels of Wednesday's Boosterthon Fun Run (last post), Nicholas (7) had his first soccer game of this fall season yesterday morning. Again, it just amazes me how much a year makes in the lives of these little kids, whether they're athletic or not.

This particular league is run out of this Southern Baptist church in one of Atlanta's suburbs, not far from us. This architectural style is very typical of the USA south.

Off to the races again!

This year he's green and #6. Can you tell that he's actually looking at and running after the ball! Don't laugh. He used to follow the feet of whomever was in front of him, whether the ball was there or not.

This year, he really is paying attention.

Sometimes he just stands there, like he's in another world. Or maybe he's heard too many times that he needs to stay in his position!

Look how boring it is when you have to sit out a quarter because there are too many kids on the team! B O R I N G! No one likes that.

In the meantime, the fan club hoots-n-hollers (this is Uncle Mark, my son, turning 32 in October)....

...while we also catch up on what's happening with each other. (Donica is talking about something very important, but don't ask me what. I just take the photos.)

Mommy (my daughter, Amy, turning 35 this week!) is the one Nicholas always looks for first! He is definitely his mommy's boy and we all eat it up, just to see it.

More than the sport itself, we all love to see the camaraderie of the team spirit and what it is instilling in these kids...

...congratulating each other whether they win or lose.

I also love that there is time for unwinding and having even the smallest of rewards.

And saying Good-Bye till next week.

Grandmas get to make these posts as many times as they want, of course! Now that Donica and I are traveling so often, we're just glad for every game we can make, so here's to the first soccer game this year, and hopefully not the last!

Another mission: Donica is flying back to Amsterdam as we speak and will be there all week. While she's gone, I plan to drive to Bridgewater, VA, tomorrow to go visit my Auntie Sue, who is now 97 and whom I last saw in March of 2005. During our last trip to Amsterdam, we expected a call any day to say she had died, since she had stopped eating and drinking. But she perked up and seems to be hanging on a bit longer.

I made the decision to make one last trip...either to see her before she dies or to go to the funeral. Not knowing if this might happen while we're in Amsterdam, I decided to drive to see her now while she's alive. It's approximately 500 miles each way, so I'll be grateful for your prayers for journeying mercies, going and coming back. I love to drive and expect beautiful fall weather. Depending on how alert she is, I may return right away on Tuesday or wait till Wednesday.

Of course, knowing her, she may decide to live another 3 years till she hits 100. If so, THAT will be "another mission!"

Friday, September 21, 2007

Man On a Mission

What a difference one year can make in the life of a little boy!

Do you remember last year when Nicholas did his Boosterthon Fun Run for his school fundraiser and ran 22 laps? That was a big deal at age 6 (1st grade) because he ran the most of anyone in his class. Woo Hoo.

So this year, when he heard that second graders can usually run 25-30 laps, he told Amy that his goal was to run 30 laps. Like last year, Donica said she'd donate $3/lap.

So, at the beginning of the hour's time allotment, everyone has to pay attention to the rules.

Excitement is in the air as the kids wait in anticipation. Would you please hurry up!

Then they're off and running. 30 laps, remember!

After each lap, teachers are positioned to mark off each one, with Nicholas barely standing still long enough to make it count.

And off he goes again.

Sometimes he DID have to slow down and walk! Yes. He wasn't maniacal all the time. He even gave G'ma a nice smile.

But then he was off to the races again.

Is he having fun or what!

Over and over again.

Now look closely. Can you see the grid well enough (click to enlarge) to tell that there are spaces for 40 laps. F O R T Y. One square left, 5 minutes to go, and Nicholas is on his 40th lap!

F O R T Y laps, G'ma

Now listen to this story. When Amy told Nicholas earlier that Donica was donating $3/lap, he immediately responded with, "And what is G'ma donating?!" HA! Amy told him that G'ma and Donica usually are together in their donation, and that's the truth. But he wanted more money because maybe he could get a prize if he had the most donated. HAHAHA. Smart boy. "A salesman in the making," both Amy and Dennis said.

But as I drove to the Boosterthon, I said to myself, "G'ma, you're just gonna have to donate $1/lap!" And so I told him that before he started the race.

All's well that ends well with a satisfied little boy, enjoying his victory. During the race he had heard it announced that a third grader had just run 40 laps. Who knows what was going on in his head, but when he made HIS 40 laps, his name, too, was announced.

That is a mission! If he can go through the rest of his life like THAT, who knows what that little boy will dream up next as a goal to achieve...and then change his mind mid-course and up the ante!