Things my Opa said

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40:
Things my father (or any male of influence growing up) said.

 

 

opa 59
Opa visiting his grandchildren
circa 1959

 

Are we here to eat or play cards?
You haven’t got a ghost of a chance.
Throw one away you won’t have so many.
Don’t bend the tickets!
Punt!

Discharge!! 

 

Card games: May I…Pinochle…Hearts…
Always accompanied by my grandfather’s litany of patter. To keep squirmy card players at attention. Snack crumbs to a minimum. Playing cards unbent. Always with a smile; however small, tugging at the corner of his mouth. The corner not clamped tight on a lit Pall Mall. The smile winning out at the last directive – discharge in lieu of discard – to get a rise out of my mother who was predictably horrified every time. Snickering ensued amongst the rest of us. Every time.

My grandfather – Opa – was a talker. A rabid card player. And so was I.

He did not offer endless pieces of advice…but a few come to mind:


The Ticket

I was 21 and had just started seriously dating the man I eventually married 3 years later. I was home that March on my college spring break…and spent a weekend visiting Opa and Oma. As we shared a booth waiting for pizzas at a local restaurant, he sat directly across from me. Oma was on my right. The conversation shifted from his questions about my nutrition classes…to questions about my romantic boyfriend. Who had sent a dozen yellow roses. To me. At their house…FTD!

What does he do? He’s a musician…
Uh, huh…?  He’s going to be a music teacher when he graduates this year.

Okay that’s good. Opa’s expression at this point relaxed somewhat, but remained neutral. I suspected he was hoping I was in love with someone who would earn lots of money. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Never mind what my career would bring…but I was a year away from graduation at that point.

And then he got to it…
Shifting in his seat, he leaned forward. Looked straight at me, his glasses sliding down his nose.

His blue eyes bored into mine.

Honey.
Remember This.
Wait For The Ticket.

Immediately Oma kicked him under the table. Muttered his name in a warning.

Waiting for my reply, he repeated:

Wait For The Ticket.

Never breaking his gaze. Uncharacteristically serious.
I nodded. Not really embarrassed, I kept my reaction as noncommittal as possible.
He didn’t want me to repeat his history.


Breastfeeding Is Best

Opa was beyond excited at the prospect of becoming a great grandfather. When I was expecting my first child, he would check in with me every so often to ask about my health. And plans for the baby. Including what the baby’s diet would be. I told him I was planning to exclusively breastfeed. He was thrilled. Your Oma breastfed your mother for a year!

He was one of the first people I called when my daughter was born. His first words…after congratulating me…were:

If You Breastfeed Her For The First Year Everything Will Be Fine!

And she was.

opa & K 1983008
Opa & his great granddaughter
1983

 

 

Photo a Week – Cityscape/Townscape

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week – Cityscape/Townscape

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR MORE) FEATURING CITIES OR TOWNS.

 

I had the good fortune this past weekend to visit with my son, his girlfriend and their sweet pup. They live in the Boston area in a 4th floor walkup apartment. Lots of walking ensued…over 12,000 steps worth.

I also didn’t miss the opportunity to run into the middle of the street for photo ops along the way.

Boston and its suburbs – which often have the same look and feel of Boston proper – offer the usual old city buildings packed in amongst newer, more trendy coffee shops and ice cream stores. Apartments. Duplex homes and condos. A blend of the historical and present day.

Fortunately the snow had melted off the sidewalks and the sun was shining when we arrived at the Coolidge Corner subway stop in Brookline on Saturday.

corner
Coolidge Corner
Brookline, Massachusetts

On the way to my son’s apartment…a canopy of trees caught my eye…

side street

 

Until we turned the corner heading out of Brookline…and noticed a strange parade approaching…

One I did not expect to see…

turkeys

…in the middle of a suburb of a major city…

Waiting for no one to stop or move over, they just marched on from one corner to the next…

turkey parade

…hurrying on their way.

Part of the cityscape…no fear.

 

Song Lyric Sunday – School/Books/Learning

My contribution to this week’s Song Lyric Sunday (prompt: School/Books/Learning) will focus on the learning…

Beth Nielsen Chapman, an American singer/songwriter, wrote Life Holds On for her self titled album released in 1990. I discovered her music by chance – often hearing it on the radio. It remains on my list of all time favorite albums!

She plays both guitar and piano throughout this album; keyboards only on Life Holds On.

Many of her songs have been recorded by artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tanya Tucker, Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride. She co-wrote This Kiss with Faith Hill, who recorded it as well. Elton John began performed her song Sand and Water in 1997. Her most recent album Hearts of Glass was released in 2018.

 

 

Life Holds On

 

by Beth Nielsen Chapman

I was swinging on the swings when I was a little girl
Trying to get a handle on the big, wide world
When I noticed all the grass in the cracks in the concrete
I said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way around anything”

Life holds on
Given the slightest chance
For the weak and the strong
Life holds on

There was a third grade boy that we knew in school
He was found face down in a swimming pool
And as they worked on that kid every minute was an hour
And when his eyes fluttered open we could feel that power

Life holds on
Given the slightest chance
For the weak and the strong
Life holds on
Life holds on

Life holds on

Sirens screaming down my street
Fading as they go
Whining somewhere far away
To someone I don’t know
Still, I say a little prayer
There’s always hope
Life holds on.

Through the window in the kitchen I can see outside
My kids taking turns coming down the slide
I try not to worry as they grow a little every day
No, I’ve just got to believe they’re gonna find their way.

Life holds on
Given the slightest chance
For the weak and the strong
Life holds on
Life holds on
Life holds on
Life holds on

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Sunrise

This post inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The prompt: Sunrise

I am not the morning person in the family. Never have been. Prying my eyes open before coffee for any useful purpose…not advisable. Focusing on anything that early in the day would not lead to my best work….

In search of a suitable photo for this challenge, I knew just where to look. My husband – definitely a morning person – even a cheerful morning person at that – had just what I was looking for. And graciously agreed to contribute the following photos, taken on his morning walks before work.

 

sunrise 2016
Sunrise
Ocean View

 

IMG_0597
Sunrise
Neighborhood Land View

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Shiny

Cee’s Challenge topic this week is Shiny

metal slides
Slide Mounts

My grandfather Opa left behind a large box of photographic slides. Hundreds of them encased in shiny metal slide mounts. Fitted into 1940’s and 1950’s era slide magazine cases. For viewing in a slide projector.

I inherited this box of treasured memories of the many travels he and my Oma embarked on…before advancing age and illness ended their adventures.

After unearthing the box in our basement during the let’s-get-ready-to-downsize years, I removed all the slides from the magazines…and mounts. Viewed them on a lighted slide sorter. And kept a sampling of my favorites (eventually inspiring one of my first blog posts…slides!)

I let go of the shiny metal….

slide cases
Slide Magazines and Mounts

 

 

Answers

Part of teaching is helping students learn how to tolerate ambiguity, consider possibilities, and ask questions that are unanswerable.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

 

questions

 

And what would they be…the unanswerable questions…

We ask them all the time. Naively. Believing answers are forthcoming. Nice, neat, tidy answer boxes we can check off…putting our minds at ease.

Humans need explanations. Logical reasons for behaviors…and difficult situations. Doubt disturbs the equilibrium we crave.

Children’s why questions…usually answerable…

Why do I need to wash my hands?
Why can’t I touch the stove…run into the street?

Until they’re not…

Why are those kids so mean?
How come grandpa had to die?

As time passes, the answers thin out. They don’t cut it.
We see through them. The holes.  The exceptions. The weaknesses. The path to newer questions. Black and white fading to gray.

In the end…sometimes no answers. Not really. We’ve lived too long to settle. We know better. But still…not why.

Why is she sick with cancer and I’m not?
Why can’t the doctors figure out what is wrong with me?

Shifting realities pose more questions than answers.
Humans don’t fit neatly into a category of reasons why.
Too much mystery. Too many unknowns. Intangibles.
Questions expand. And filter down to the universal…

What is life?
Why am I here?
What happens when I’m not?

~~~

I took a class in college – my one and only Philosophy course – entitled “Explanation” – and was immediately lost in a sea of questions. The professor with his PhD paced back and forth in front of rows of earnest young students like myself.  Trying to absorb his explanations of deep philosophical questions and answers. The existential questions of…life? To me…it might as well have been another language all together. I had no answers for him that I understood, but I offered them anyway on exams….and assigned papers. Fortunately the answers were good enough. To earn a B in the class.
I wonder how it would go if I were taking that class now….

 

 

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #39: Unanswerable