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The house is quiet now. The pitter patter of little feet that ushered our grandchildren down the long hall,  through the kitchen, up and down stairs and stools and chairs and climb-upons that only children tackle have faded. The creaks and groans of the floorboards are just that; creaks and groans of an old house pushing itself back together again.

I feel a bit like a floorboard tonight, pushing myself back together again, creaking and groaning as I shift my focus from bustling granny, chief cook and bottle washer (remember that term?) to tackler of piles upon piles of this and that and the other; projects all that need some attention tomorrow.

In the quiet tonight, however, sated from a big Easter dinner, I’m feeling a tad like Peter Rabbit must have felt, soporific from overindulgence of food I don’t usually eat – with an extra helping to boot. I’ll just rest my eyes and reflect on family, both those now up north and those who were with us today, dining around our table, which also groaned and creaked with the weight of food and conversation and is just now putting itself back together.

I’ll just be still while the nearly full moon winks at me through the eyebrow window in our bedroom and I’ll give thanks for the joy of t0day and the promise of tomorrow.

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DSCN7733Something white caught my eye.  There they were, a generous mass of springtime, clustered on the ground as we were leaving Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday; snowdrops – and not the cold, wet, flakey kind!

The trees are starting to bud. The grass is greening. My daffodils are inching forward and many are showing plump, yellow tips. Best of all, there is a full chorus of spring peepers down the road in the little pond.

A walk in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods had this little miss swinging her coat like a kite and her shadow skipping along the path,

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and this young lad hugged his Papa for a long, long while and then he explored the nature center.

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Today we will color Easter eggs and perhaps watch trains go by, as our Ezra really loves trains, and we will have some quiet moments as we reflect upon the gift of Easter.

Peace and  blessings to each of you.

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“Have courage and be kind” . . .

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. . .  and so, we put our heads down and pushed into the wind on the birthday of a little princess. Mommy, Aunty Jenny, Yia Yia, and the little girl just turning five embarked upon a girls’ day out on Sunday to see the new Disney movie, Cinderella.

How can I possibly describe the pure joy of viewing a fantasy fairy tale with the three most cherished girls in my life? We shared tubs of popcorn and Skittles and giggled at the Disney short feature about Anna and Elsa, the movie Frozen’s lead characters. That the feature was about a surprise party for Anna on her birthday just added to magic. We pretended (okay, I pretended) that Anna and Kezzie have the same birthday. Why not? I’m the grannie and grannies can make up whatever they want. Bippity boppity boo.

An underlying theme in this version of Cinderella are the last words Cinderella’s mother speaks to her, “have courage and be kind”. Not bad advice in fantasy or real life.

As grandparents with grandchildren who live very far way, the moments of being near our little ones are often infrequent, so, like many of you we have to seize what moments we have and savor them to last a bit longer when distance keeps us apart. So, we have these few days, and will for the next few, going for walks, cooking, enjoying our meals, playing, reading stories, hiding in blanket forts and engaging in adolescent concerts.

I’ll be busy for a few more days, my friends, so, here are a few photos of our time so far, as we make the most of our time together in the next few days.

Ezra chilling out with Papa, and dressing against the chill for some fun in the yard.

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IMG_7144Making music together.

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Helping Yia Yia make eggs for brunch with Aunty Jenny and Uncle Jason,

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and birthday celebrations.DSCN7639 DSCN7641

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IMG_7103Most days, when I awake, I look into the mirror, smile or frown, and have a bit of a greeting with my mom.

“Hi, Ma”  I say and she smiles or frowns back at me, depending on my mood, with our likenesses  more profound the older I get – and the closer I come to the age she died.

I think of Ma more vividly on special days; her birthday, mine, holidays, and the Ides of March, which is the day she passed away. It was also the birthday of my Aunt Christine. We had several years in our family where one or the other relative passed on one of our birthdays.

At any rate, I’ve been thinking of my mom and about her last gift to me.

Just days before her death, on a sunny afternoon in her hospital room, Ma patted her bed for me to come over and sit. She was bandaged and bruised where the doctor has attempted putting a port in for her to receive chemo. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread too far and there was nothing to be done but to make her comfortable.

On this particular day, March 10 or 11, Ma was very cognizant and she wanted to talk with me. She made her simple wishes known and then we talked about faith and her dying.

My mother’s faith was simple and unquestioning. She wasn’t all that afraid; just enough so to want to talk about it, and so we did. We talked about God and heaven and those she would see again, especially my father. We cried and held hands and she called me her rock (a title I never wanted) and in those moments together my mother gave me the last gift I would ever receive from her. She gave me her love and showed me how to say goodbye with grace and dignity.

We were all with her when she passed. I was right at her side and I have always known that I caught her last breath before she went home.

It wasn’t until somewhat recently that I realized I gave her a gift as well. I gave her the moments she needed to put her thoughts and beliefs to rest, to talk about dying – and to say goodbye. It is funny, isn’t it, the things we continue to learn from our parents, long after they are gone?

This morning, when I awoke, we smiled at each other, on this the Ides of March.

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DSCN7096 - Version 2What’s a gal to do when she’s just finished a book, for the second time, whose ending she knows and whose author will be visiting the Cutoff when the very next day dawns?

Well. she sheds a puddle of tears for, though she knows how the story ends, it is the journey that is the protagonist in an adventure that is both funny and sad, painful and celebratory. It is the story that is both physical and personal for the author, and it reminds the reader, perhaps, of one’s own long travelled road; of memories made, bridges crossed, battles fought (some won and some lost), of lessons learned and of those lessons she keeps learning. It brings to home and to heart the value of family and friends, and of those who have cheered us on and had our back along the way.

 “Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace”, is the book and the author is none other than the remarkable and gifted Andra Watkins.

Andra’s name often appears in the comment section here on the Cutoff, for which I am grateful. Her name also sometimes appears in the body of a post, especially when one of her books is published, such as last year’s “To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis”, which I wrote about here.

I was delighted when I won an advanced reading copy of Andra’s second book, “Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace”.  “Not Without My Father . . . ” is Andra’s memoir of her trek along the Natchez Trace, promoting her first book. It entails how she drafts her father to be her “wingman” on her journey – the angst and pain, frustration and hilarity that occurs along the way. Roy Lee Watkins is bigger than life, a natural storyteller, and a bit of a character, to say the least. The book is the story of her journey along the Trace, as well as their personal journey as father and daughter.

In the book, we also meet her mother, Linda, her friend, Alice, and others; from the innkeepers that provide a nest’s rest, to the National Park workers she meets along the Trace, as Roy sells her book from the trunk of his car and weaves his own tales.

It was in my second reading of Andra’s book, once it was published, that I realized I was mentioned in the acknowledgments, along with a host of other readers, for song suggestions, which are used as chapter heading in the book. What fun it was to discover.

So, in honor of Andra, who will be wending her way to the Cutoff as part of the Chicago leg of her book tour, here’s a little Ray Charles and a lot of hope that she does come back some more, some more, some more, some more . . .

 

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2_Abraham_Leon_Kroll_American_artist_1884_1974_The_ConversationIs there anything more satisfying than solving the world’s problems with one’s hands cradling a warm cup of traveling steam – and whatever floats inside it?

I am one of the fortunate ones. I have friends and family who are ready and often waiting for a good sit-down chat, whether it be at the kitchen table, in a coffee shop, lunch in a quiet restaurant, or on the ether pages in this modern world.

I think, these days, with family and friends oftentimes far away, or too busy to catch their breaths, that the internet has become a virtual clothesline. We hang our laundry up to dry and hope that, perhaps, a neighbor or two will wander by for a spell while we clip the clothespins on.

While I am writing, I often have a cup of tea or a mug of coffee at my side, and I think about you, dear reader. Do you read with a favored cuppa nearby? Are you in business attire, your pajamas, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt? Do you chew on a cookie or a piece of fruit as you turn your virtual pages with a click that comes as sure as your next breath, traveling here and there around the blogosphere?

I am a “people person”. I love to strike up conversations with my best of friends – or the librarian checking out my latest read. You never know what you will learn on these verbal forays. For instance, the cashier at Walgreens, who recognizes me as the lady who sometimes comes in to buy their dollar molasses cookies, shared with me that a local fast food/ice cream stand purchases the very same cookies to make the ice cream sandwiches they sell. The gals and guys at the Jewel always take the time to ask how I am – and care.  Once, my address visible while paying with a check, a cashier asked me if I knew Jim and Connie who live on my street. Indeed, I did. It was their house we bought. I swear, if there had not been other customers in the queue,  we would be talking still about what nice people they are.

Well, the kettle is whistling and I need to ice my old knee, so, I guess it is time to stop.

Thank you, forever and always, for wandering by for a spell. I always enjoy our chats.

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A lollipop was mentioned.

I don’t recall why.

 I started signing the oldies song, Lollipop. One thing led to another, Kezzie dashing into her room then back out again, just as I found the Chordettes on youtube. We had some fun singing the lollipop song, over and over again, and trying to make a “pop” sound with our fingers and cheeks at just the right time.

I thought you might have some fun either remembering this, or having some fun of your own with the younger set.

Anyone recognize the chap making the lolli-popping sound?

Do you have a song that brings on silliness and fun?

 

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