Split in Two

It was a month ago yesterday. A day split in two…spent jumping across a great divide between a mountain of horror and one of profound joy. And then back again. The beginning of a surreal progression of hours and days trying to make sense of the first part. While rejoicing in the second part. I had no head space for much of anything else.

Part One:

Are you sitting down? My youngest sister’s first words hit me like a tidal wave when I answered the phone. I could barely understand anything else she was trying to say. Through the tears. And the terror…as her voice rose in pitch.
What is it? Please slow down! I can’t understand you.
Are You Sitting Down?
I had just finished lunch. I sat back down.
In bits and pieces she told me…our other sister’s only son had killed himself. He was found the next day, alone in his apartment. No No No The despair filled my heart and it broke. It broke for my other sister and her daughter and the unimaginable loss of a son and brother. It broke for the rest of the family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandfather, a niece & nephew. My son and daughter had visited their cousins last fall. The last time they would ever see him.
Why? Do you know why?
No, there wasn’t a note. We asked each other…But how can this be? He was such a kind and gentle soul. We went back and forth in disbelief for a few minutes, both of us crying & shouting and trying to understand the enormity of it.
No No No this can’t be real. He was only 34 years old. My mind flew back 20+ years to family reunions and to when he came along on several family vacations with us. He and my son became close and were sweet playmates during those times…separated in age by only a year. That’s how I will always remember him…the smart, funny, kind of goofy kid who told me when he was 11 that he wanted to be a businessman when he grew up. And that’s what he did.

My son (on the right) & his cousin, 1996


As it often happens, family gatherings and reunions became fewer and farther between as the years went by. Eventually just limited to weddings…and funerals. I hadn’t seen my nephew in person since his older sister got married in 2013, when he walked her down the aisle…their father long since passed.

You figure there’s always time. Until there isn’t. You think someone is okay because they act like they are. But sometimes they aren’t. Do we see what we want to see or do we need to look deeper…ask more questions? Are we afraid to do just that? Afraid of the dark places ourselves? I really don’t know. I also don’t know how his mom…my sister…will ever survive her grief…as strong as she is.

Part Two:

One hour after my sister’s call…a text message from my son-in-law…we are in the hospital. My daughter was 9 months pregnant and this surely meant good news. Two hours later…my cell phone dings with another text message. Up pops a photo of my daughter, son-in-law and their brand new baby girl…snuggled on her mother’s chest cozy as can be. My little granddaughter was born right on her due date – healthy, safe and perfect in every way. The photos kept coming and filled me with a soft ray of hope and calm as I fell in love with her on the spot…even though I live 500 miles away. That night we met on FaceTime and I gratefully lept over the divide to the mountain of profound joy…on the day split in two.

One month – and one week long visit later – and I am still rejoicing.
Thank you sweet girl.

Two of a Kind

BeckyB’s October Squares: Kind
One Word Sunday: Two

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This pair of three year old feet were two of a silly kind during a memorable FaceTime moment last year.

Dinner Time Shenanigans

First…one bare foot appeared and propped itself up on the table…then disappeared at Mama’s gentle request…

Seconds later, it returned when mama looked away.

Disappeared again.

Then back in a flash.

Grandma (me) started giggling.

Then foot number 2 joined the fun.

Mama gave up.

And…as we all know…laughter is contagious.

Sunny Day

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #84: Sun

Let’s evoke the power of the sun this week, with images, poems, and stories to warm us up.

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It’s warmer here Mom, my daughter informed me last week.

I was preparing to visit her & her family in Washington DC to babysit my 3 ½ year old grandson for 3 days of his pre-K school vacation.

I interpreted that to mean Spring warmth. Big mistake. It was still too cold…for me. I did not pack accordingly. Obviously too much wishful thinking.

I arrived on Tuesday to temps in the 40s, but with little or no sun.  Which continued into Wednesday, along with a cold biting wind that slowly but surely froze my hands and ears walking with this very active little boy…5 blocks to the library for story time. Next on to the park to climb, slide and run around (him not me) on Wednesday and again on Thursday. The grey day cold seeped in deeper as I had to retrace our steps to get on the right street (he redirected me). Five blocks turned into six…seven….

What is it about a cloudy cold day that can drain your energy more than usual? Even when you are doing exciting things like walking down the street hand in hand with a conversational little boy…following an orange garbage truck to watch the stopping and emptying of trash cans.

Or…Waiting and observing and discussing why 3 workers across the street are just standing around an open manhole cover clearly marked with caution tape…
Grandma what are they doing?
Waiting to see what happens next.
Grandma why are they doing nothing?

The temperature feels colder under a cloudy sky when you stop at every alley to watch for cars or trucks or whatever may come zooming out. Or walk the wrong way…twice…
Grandma that’s the coffee shop! We have to go that way over there!

I have no sense of direction – I freely admit that – but my brain was also frozen. That’s my excuse this week. As well as not being properly dressed for walking the streets of DC in February. My grandson remained unfazed by the cold and our adventurous routes around the neighborhood.

The overcast skies continued…until yesterday.

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What a difference that sun can make.

back yard sun

We played closer to home during my last day of Grandma time.

It felt just a bit warmer.

scooter

I love sunny days.

Framing the Shot

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #60: Framing the Shot

This week, we will explore different ways of framing images. Many photographers agree on one thing about framing – that it can help direct the viewers eyes to where you want them to look.

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It’s hard to believe the summer of 2019 is – for the most part – in the rear view. I don’t know what it is about summer, but it always seems to “go by” faster than winter with its endless cold dark days.

This summer, we traveled more than usual. Not very far…Vermont in June and Washington DC in June and August. No trips overseas or cross-country. Which is okay…longer distance travel is probably not going to happen anymore. Also okay.

As always – no matter how far I travel – I document. My ongoing attempts to freeze time.

For this challenge, these 2 shots came to mind.

The first one is from our three day June visit with friends on Lake Champlain in North Ferrisburgh, Vermont. We witnessed spectacular sunsets over dinner from their back porch.

At one point venturing closer to lake’s edge for unobstructed views…

lake frame
Sunset on Lake Champlain – framing the shot

During our second visit to Washington DC we spent a few hours babysitting for our 3 year old grandson. A few blocks away his parents started painting his new bedroom a pale shade of pink…in preparation for their move a few days later.

I think he sensed that big changes were in the air. After an hour of making multiple garages with magnetic tiles for his miniature construction trucks with Grandma & Grampa, he became restless and began looking for Mama.

That is, until we heard a Home Depot flatbed delivery truck across the street. The front porch offered the best view…as we watched one man unload a large pallet of lumber and building materials. By himself! With an attached forklift! Fascinating stuff for a lover of all things construction.

Several minutes of respite for a 3 year old…and for Grampa too.

guys watching lumber
Two guys on the porch

 

Trail

This post inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The prompt: Trail

One year ago, my daughter, son-in-law and 2 year old grandson came to visit. Grampa and I babysat for two days while his parents went to a wedding.

Perhaps babysat is not the most accurate term. Very little sitting took place.

A walking trail encircles our condo building. The builder never finished grading it properly…forcing us over-55s to step carefully along the uneven gravel surface.

However…the two year old dynamo in the Washington Nationals baseball cap had no trouble at all. With only one year of walking experience under his non-existent belt, he was fearless.

And fast.

June 2018 trail

Grampa, on the other hand, had to pick up the pace to keep up.

 

Traveling

Inspired by….Ragtag Daily Prompt Quench

I used to really enjoy traveling.

Even when I was a little kid. Despite the fact that I got carsick, I enjoyed the excitement of discovering the unknown. Even if it just meant the next “tourist trap” as my father described Country Stores and such. We didn’t go on many family vacations but they were always memorable for one reason or the other. One was the coin operated vibrating bed in a cheap motel room somewhere. I shoved a coin in the slot, pushed the button and surprise!

Fast forward a few decades. Air travel was exciting then. There was security of course, but we could bring any food and drinks right through all the checkpoints. Family members accompanied us to the departure gate and waved goodbye.  Even 20 years ago, a cross country flight was not the hassle it is now. I didn’t think twice about the process. And I could run without gasping for breath to the gate for my connecting flight.

Now it is stressful – at least for me. My adult children are faintly annoyed by this (well, perhaps more like eye-rolling annoyed). They don’t understand…because they have mostly known air travel post 9/11.  I remember when it was easy. They do not.

So here I am. High anxiety 2 days out. Making lists. Everywhere.

Getting ready to fly to see my grandson – all 2 ½ years of him. And his parents too, of course — who need some childcare help while the daycare is closed for a few days. Grandma to the rescue. So to speak rescue. Well, Grandma is trying her best to get her travel act together. For a 4 day visit. Let’s see….
Make a list –
What will fit in the carry-on….that I can lift and drag/wheel through the airport including the ladies room. Along with my tote bag, purse, computer, etc.
What do I need…what don’t I need….
Back cushion!! Don’t forget that.
Special goodies for the kiddo.

What about the weather! High anxiety 2 days out.

Ridiculous.

I wonder if this is a sign of advancing age…the inescapable fact that my body is just not responding to my commands as it used to. Sitting. Standing. Stairs. All harder. Trying to find safe foods to eat on the road…gluten free because I have to.
What the heck.

However what I do know for sure (thank you, Oprah) is that I miss the sight of this little one who I last saw in person…walking down my hall in June. It’s the ache in my heart that won’t calm on its own.

So, until his little family moves closer – about 500 miles closer – I will quench my thirst for this bundle of love and limitless energy.
By powering through this travel thing.
To see him. And his parents too.
FaceTime is all very well and good,
But nothing beats a real hug and sloppy 2 year old kiss.

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see ya next time Grandma