Tag Archives: Grandchildren

Breakfast with My Brother

Me at 16 with my brothers, circa 1969.

I measure the distance between extended family in states rather than miles. The lone exception, my brother Ned, lives in another part of Indiana.

A year apart, we played together like twins until I started school, where he acknowledged my existence only by a raised eyebrow.

Fortunately, he no longer regards sisters as threats to his manhood. We phone occasionally, but not often enough. I recall several years ago when we met halfway between our homes for breakfast.

We chose a mom-and-pop establishment, where we could indulge in illegal eggs over easy, crispy bacon and infinite cups of curl-your-hair coffee. Or the mortal sin of biscuits with gravy.

Entering, I saw no sign of Ned. As I walked toward a vinyl booth, I expected — and received — the who-are-you-stranger? once-over.

Homeland Security should catch onto this resource, one that could revolutionize national safety procedures. We don’t need metal detectors or X-rays. If the government would pay a tableful of these locals to drink coffee at security points, no terrorist in his right mind would try to get past their scrutiny.

Born and raised in rural Indiana, I knew I’d broken the rules. No woman eats breakfast alone in a strange town. As a sweet-faced waitress brought me blessed coffee, I pulled out my Bible and read while I waited. Eye-lasers clicked off one by one. Their owners swiveled back to their breakfasts. They gave Congress and the weather their morning cussing and analyzed high school basketball with an expertise that would put ESPN out of business.

Until my brother walked in. Immediately, the force field returned. As Ned headed toward my booth, question marks formed in the air, visible as if smokers had blown them.

“Good to see ya, Sis!” Ned trumpeted. He knew the rules, too.

The diners returned to their vivisection of basketball referees, as the waitress took our order. She brought us waffles, eggs and ham. Biscuits and gravy.

With bowed heads, we asked God to bless the cholesterol. Our words filled and warmed us as much as the steaming, delicious food. We solved our kids’ problems (if they would just listen!). We cheered the utter perfection of our grandchildren.

All too soon, our separate worlds called to us. We promised to connect sooner next time.

Before we separated, I demanded a hug, just to give the town conversation material for the next few weeks.

Ned’s eyebrow went up. But the hug happened.

It can’t happen today, in 2020.

But after this blasted COVID crisis ends, I’ll collect every one of those hugs that have piled up in the meantime.

Even if he raises the other eyebrow.

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Whom do you want to hug post-COVID?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Definitely Outclassed

O Lord, thank You for grandsons whose energy output could light Chicago. You know that not too long ago, I easily outraced them. Now, however, my slow legs and weighty derriere always bring up the rear. OMG, even the two-year-old — especially, the two-year-old! — leaves me in the dust.

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Marching to the Blessed Drummer

O Lord, with the COVID-19 crisis, my oldest grandchildren have practiced and marched in their bedrooms so they could perform for family and friends. OMG, if I followed You as carefully as they follow their directors, perhaps I, too, might help create something beautiful. And I probably wouldn’t collide with as many tubas. 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: You Know the Way

According to my grandson, Betsy and I were buddies.

O Lord, my grandchildren believe I’ve been around since forever. One asked if I knew Betsy Ross. But You truly have been around since forever. OMG, thank You for offering Your expert help to all of us navigating our senior years. Not to mention, our forever!

Hidden Treasure

Image by guvo59 from Pixabay.

When you hear the word “treasure,” do your ears perk up like a kitty’s at the whirr of a can opener?

My ears wiggle, too — though as a child, jewels, in particular, fascinated me.

When I was a preschooler, a kind lady, aware of our family’s poverty, offered to buy my sister and me Easter clothes. She was rich, so I reveled in fantasies of princess dresses of red velvet, encrusted with precious stones.

Instead, we wore blue-and-white gingham. Not a single sapphire or diamond on them anywhere.

At sandy beaches, I buried quartz pebbles, marking their hiding places with an X. Someday, I would dig them up and sell them for millions. Then I’d wear princess dresses and eat Dilly Bars every single day.

In my heart of hearts, I knew few found for-real treasures in Indiana cornfields. Jesus told a story about a man discovering a “pearl of great price” in a field, but I never found one.

Still, I tried to hide my everyday treasures, with limited success. My younger brothers, who couldn’t find their shoes if their lives depended on it, possessed sophisticated built-in systems that detected all candy bars within 50 miles.

I also loved fruit — another commodity that disappeared quickly at our house. When my mother brought home ruby-red apples or golden oranges, I sneaked several and hid them in my bed’s headboard for secret indulgence while I read Little Women or Black Beauty.

Much later, I learned that I came from a long line of fruit pirates. My Southern grandmother treasured apples as if they were made of gold. When Dad brought her bags of apples from the Midwest, they vanished. An even better treasure detector than his sons, Dad found them under her bed. Once, while visiting my parents, I was vacuuming bedrooms when I discovered his apple stash as well.

Thus, my toddler grandson’s precocious ability to hide treasure shouldn’t have surprised us. He mostly spirited off other people’s valuables. When car keys, remotes, or backup flash drives vanished, his parents immediately identified the chief suspect. After extensive treasure hunts, they might find their billfolds nestled in 50 pounds of cat food.

Or maybe not.

They still considered that little larcenist a treasure — and Grandma certainly agrees.

I’ve never dug my fingers through piles of gleaming doubloons or gems, but the ring of precious faces around my table glow with greater worth. The only diamonds I own are small solitaires that shine on my left hand and on a silver anniversary necklace, courtesy of the shy, loving guy whose once-hidden treasures have taken a lifetime to discover and enjoy.

Makes my ears wiggle just to think about it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you consider your treasures?

Fifteen Reasons Why I Feel Fine in February

When Midwestern citizens select their favorite month, February is among the first voted off the calendar. Even 2020’s relatively civilized temperatures (so far) don’t suffice to keep February in the running.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay.

We still wear long undies. Yet swimsuits go on sale. Ack!

February Visa bills bristle with charges we’d repressed.

We’ve already lost the right gloves of new pairs our in-laws gave us for Christmas.

Cars define dirty. Even if some thug attempted to steal mine before my very eyes, I wouldn’t realize it. If I did, I’d offer him the keys.

But I’m still feeling fine in February for 15 reasons:

  • God has not run away to Florida. He knew we needed Him here big-time.
  • I love baggy clothes. Fitted-waistline spring and summer outfits constrict my creativity. Not to mention, my breathing.
  • On Groundhog Day, a marginalized species is celebrated with newspaper headlines. Isn’t it nice that groundhog groupies crowd around Punxsutawney Phil as if he were Justin Bieber? Insane, but nice.
  • I don’t have to do spring-cleaning yet. Shoot, if we squeeze a little more snow out of winter, I don’t have to take down my Christmas wreath yet.
Photo by Linnell Esler from FreeImages.
  • Let’s hear it for half-price chocolate the day after Valentine’s Day!
  • If that’s not enough to make you smile, February is also Great American Pie Month.
  • Because my toes are buried deep inside fuzzy socks, I don’t have to polish my toenails.
  • Nor must I face my March birthday yet. An added bonus: because leap year comes in 2020, I receive an extra day of reprieve.
  • My youngest grandchild was born on the 10th — a reason to throw confetti all month long!
  • February’s sloppy weather creates an excellent working environment for a writer. With a recluse sun rarely showing its face, my laptop and I snuggle in my chair with zero desire to play hooky outside.
  • A steaming mug of coffee tastes 10 times better on a February morning than in May.
  • Everybody’s windows are dirty. Everybody’s yard looks lousy. Regardless of color, houses look gray. February in the Midwest is a great equalizer when it comes to property upkeep. Unless you haven’t taken down your Christmas wreath.
  • Girl Scout Cookies arrive in February.
  • Hot flashes come in handy.
  • Finally, it’s February, not November. Only a few weeks until legal spring.

The birds, chirping a little louder, feel the change. So do brave, if stupid, daffodils poking up green fingertips in my sheltered flower bed. With these tiny pre-signs of spring — along with a few hundred Girl Scout Cookies — how can I keep from feeling fine in February?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite thing about this month?