Out of sight, out of mind

This lamp is not only heavy and hideous, it could be a fire hazard. I can't in good conscious donate it to Savers, can I?

This lamp is not only heavy and hideous, it could be a fire hazard. I can’t in good conscience donate it to Savers, can I?

This post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt.

Is there junk in my life? Oh hell yes! I have a basement full of old, broken, unused crap. But guess what? It’s not mine.

I suppose the ethical question is do I let it keep gathering dust until Grandma passes? Or do I start getting rid of stuff now? Her advancing dementia and the countdown to my daughter’s May high school graduation have convinced me to tackle the problem now. There are boxes Grandma insisted she had to have that I moved up here only to remain taped up seven years later; there’s an entire room she never goes in.  You can’t miss something you don’t know you have, but you can tackle getting an entire house in shape for a pending move in phases. I christen phase one Jettisoning Grandma’s Junk.

The ceramic owl lamp that weighs at least 30 pounds and flickers so excessively Grandma insisted it be unplugged before it started a fire: Gone.

The two enormous antique bookshelves full of dusty old westerns and romances that were probably read sometime in the ’70s: Outta here.

The nine unopened mystery boxes that could contain some priceless family heirlooms but in reality only hold more bizarre junk that Grandma couldn’t part with but has no practical purpose: Adios.

If I’m honest with myself, I know it’s not only Grandma who has junk lying around. When I moved here after my divorce seven years ago, I vowed to stay downsized. But little by little, crap snuck in. I have an office full of desks and computers my children and I abandoned for laptops at the kitchen table. I have electronics that are probably worth something on Craig’s List, but the thought of shady people calling me looking for components for their “projects” kind of creeps me out. I have a living room full of furniture we sit on approximately 3 times a year.

I read the other day the floating island of trash in the Pacific Ocean is now twice the size of France. Facts like that make me reaffirm my pledge to live simply. But what do I do with the junk I already have? Maybe I’ll haul it around for another 40 years and let my kids sort it out. Nah, seeing Grandma to the finish line has made me aware of many things, but most important among them is do what you can to minimize the burden you put on your family. My kids might not be as accommodating as me. 🙂


I’m my family’s matriarch-in-waiting

me_queenThis post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt.

Prince Charles and I have a lot in common. We’re both waiting to take the reigns of our family dynasties. Oh sure, my responsibilities are smaller scale, but I don’t have a palace full of help either.

This is a just an example of my to-do list:

Laying the Queen Grandma to rest

There won’t be any foreign dignitaries and it won’t be televised, but I will be in charge of Grandma’s funeral. Her friends should have an opportunity to pay their last respects, but she’s already outlived most of them. If nothing else I’ll make green bean casserole (Grandma’s favorite dish) and we’ll play Stairway to Heaven full blast for as long as it takes to drink several bottles of Sauvignon Blanc.

Perfecting my wave

Kansas folks are friendly! Although we’re more likely to nod than wave to people we pass on the road. That’s probably because none of those old country trucks had power steering back in the day. Well we have modern cars now so it’s time we updated that.

Proclaiming official gathering places

Wherever the royal family vacations, a flag is raised at the castle. I assume the matriarch makes the call on where this will be. We will keep our festivities on the down low to avoid the paparazzi, but I will insist on the MU flag coming down whenever we meet at my oldest daughter’s house. Only the KU Jayhawk may announce our presence.

Preserving my family’s collective knowledge

There are entire museum wings devoted to Charles’ lineage, blood lines, etc. My Mom only filled in a few names in the illustrated family tree in my baby book. If I don’t do a good job, my grandchildren will never know about their great-great cross-dressing Grandpa and other colorful characters in our family’s history. I guess this blog is a good start. Thank god I’m writing it when I’m young enough future generations won’t doubt my sanity.

Ensuring my legacy

This is a tough one — how do I want future generations to remember me? I’m average height so Samantha Longshanks is out … For the time being I’m mentally stable so Mad Sam won’t work either. I still have some time to work on this one. If I depart unexpectedly I guess there are worse things to be remembered for than a plethora of cats and the awesomest music collection any woman ever amassed. Rock Goddess Samantha. I kinda like the sound of that.

Image credit: neftali77 / 123RF Stock Photo and anelina / 123RF Stock Photo

Betty White is not my Grandma

You won't find her star on Hollywood Boulevard, but I'll always be Grandma's number one fan.

You won’t find her star on Hollywood Boulevard, but I’ll always be Grandma’s number one fan.

“So you blog about your Grandma. Is she famous or something?”

It’s a reasonable question. And sometimes I wish she were famous — like Betty White. After all, they’re about the same age. But my Grandma is no Betty White.

She never had a glamorous job

Betty White was already a radio star in the 30s before she moved on to TV and movies. My Grandma worked for Ma Bell her whole career. She did meet Jimmy Carter once when she went to Washington as a representative of the Communication Workers of America. If you ask her she’ll tell you President Carter was a decent man, but the rest of those clowns in Washington were just a bunch of skirt chasers.

She never married anyone famous

Grandpa never hosted a game show like Betty White’s husband, Allen Ludden. But in Grandma’s eyes he might as well have been Steve McQueen. They got married the first time when she was 15 and he was 20 and would’ve never divorced if World War II and his jealous sisters hadn’t interrupted their lives.

They both remarried, but she stayed in touch with his mom. When Grandpa called her 15 years later and told her he still loved her, it was Katy bar the door. They both divorced, and he showed up in Topeka in 1961 with a used car and 20 dollars to his name. For the next 44 years they were unquestionably the love of each other’s lives.

She wouldn’t have starred in Lake Placid

Grandma was never a big movie buff, and she’s certainly no alligator fan. But she still has her autographed picture of Chuck Norris from the time he came to town for his movie shoot, and she never misses his movies when they show them on TV.

She never hosted Saturday Night Live

Hell, she’s never even watched Saturday Night Live.

My Grandma is no Betty White. She doesn’t have a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and she’s not going to leave me a fortune. She’s grouchy and eccentric and stubborn. And some days she doesn’t even know who I am.

But Grandma took care of me when my teenage mother was still busy growing up. When I was nine, she bought me Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. She always let me play on her typewriter, even when she had work to do. And I never remember her sending me to bed without supper.

When I was older, Grandma  paid my college dorm fees and bought my first house so I could afford to finish school after my daughter was born. She kept that house when I fell in love and ran away to England to get married because she knew I’d be back. And when I did return, she never once said I told you so. Well OK, maybe once.

Whenever I’ve needed something — pocket money, new shoes, a mom — Grandma has been there for me.

I at least owe her a blog.

Image credit: zlajo / 123RF Stock Photo

This post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt.

If I were Grandma for a day

If I were Grandma for a day, I'd haul my butt out of my chair, live life and act like I'm happy to still be among the living.

If I were Grandma for a day, I’d haul my butt out of my chair, live life and act like I’m happy to still be among the living.

Say I woke up one morning in Grandma’s chair…

I’d take a look around and not see much — but I could see. I’d look at my hands; they’d be wrinkled and arthritic. I’d try to stand up, and it would feel like I’m on a different planet with double Earth’s gravity. My struggle to merely stand would tell me any activity beyond walking to the bathroom is foreign to my 88-year-old body. But I’d be alive, and I wouldn’t spend the day sitting in my chair.

The first thing I’d do once I was on my feet is make a beeline to the shower. I’d step in and turn the water on and feel instantly more alive as it flowed over me. I’d scrub my skin. I’d wash my hair. I’d get water all over my face, and it would feel wonderful. I’d step out ready to take on the day.

Once I dressed, I’d take a look at what there was to eat. The only fresh thing I’d see is a banana, which I’d eat. Still hungry, I’d head upstairs to see what’s in the fridge.

Nobody would expect me to be upstairs, and their jaws would drop when I asked what’s for breakfast. Chloe would say “Pancakes Grandma. Want some?” and I’d say yes, can I have a couple. Once they were on my plate I’d slather on some peanut butter, pour on syrup and enjoy every hot, fresh bite. I wouldn’t belch a single time during breakfast.

Once I finished eating I’d ask everyone about their plans for the day.  They’d be headed to the dog park with Pickles, so  I’d ask if I could come too. It would take me awhile to walk down to the park benches, but I’d make it. Once I sat down I’d spend the next few hours with the sun on my face, listening to the birds and watching the puppy run around like crazy. There’d be people  talking. Dogs  barking. Children squealing. I’d be scooped up in the experience of living, which would be much better than sitting in the basement with nothing but a reading lamp on dosing in and out of sleep waiting for another day to pass me by.

The uphill walk back to the car would be hard, and I’d have to stop several times to catch my breath. Eventually I’d make it to the top. We’d leave the windows open on the ride home and a hundred different smells and sounds would whiz by. There’d be movement and anticipation and choices to make about how to live the rest of the day. I’d spend time with my family and take in details about the lives that usually go on above me while I’m sitting  alone in my chair.

Soon it would be lunch time, and I’d try Indian food for the first time in my life. The spices and textures would be different from what I’m used to, but their intensity would penetrate my ancient tastebuds and I’d experience flavor for the first time in a long while. Memories would flood back from times in my life when I ate something delicious or spit out the first mouthful. I’d remember fresh baked biscuits and butter straight out of the churn. And ice cream — months and years and decades full of eating cold, sweet ice cream.

In the afternoon when everyone was running errands I’d entertain myself by sitting in the garden. Despite my eyesight I’d see dozens of flowers in all shapes and colors — some ready to bloom, others losing a petal or two every time the wind rustled them. There would be birds galore flying back and forth from the feeder, and squirrels scouring the ground below for seeds the birds dropped. A few butterflies would dance around the flowers, and I ‘d even catch a hummingbird out of the corner of my eye looking for nectar in the flowering catnip that’s taken over the entire front porch.  I’d breath deep and take it all in.

Later in the afternoon when everyone came home, I’d sit at the table while dinner’s being made, listening to the kids talk about school and work and boyfriends and their new favorite songs. I’d tell them about the 1950s when nobody had televisions and we all sat around listening to radio shows. They’d tell me nobody listens to radio now, instead they stream music through their computers. I’d ask them if they’d help me look for Benny Goodman streaming on the Internet, and they’d say yes.

After a delicious dinner with fresh corn, rice pilaf and some kind of fake chicken that actually tasted pretty good, I’d watch the kids play cards. There’d be a lot of rules so I’d just enjoy watching them laugh and argue over who laid their cards down first and cheer when somebody won the round.

Eventually I’d look outside and notice it’s getting dark, and I’d realize how tired I am. I’d been awake and alert all day, and I’d sleep like a rock that night. I’d tell my family I love them and head back downstairs with all the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the day whirling around in my head. I’d realize how much more alive I felt after sitting in the park, spending time in the garden and enjoying my family. I’d sit down in my chair, and Fluffy would jump on my lap. I’d dose off petting her, still thinking of everything I did that day.

The next morning Grandma would wake up and look around. She couldn’t see very well, and every ounce of inertia would be back, weighing her down. She’d decide not to bathe or go upstairs or talk with her family. She’d just sit in her chair in the dimly lit room, dosing off and waking up now and then while another day passed her by.

This post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt.

Image from 123 Royalty Free.