Changing Seasons

I always find it wonderfully amazing that the world continues to revolve regardless of what is going on in it. We live in a wonderful world and I am always grateful for the experience of living in it.

The passing of the seasons bring new and wondrous experiences into our lives. Sometimes it is the simplest things that bring light and joy.

You all know what I’m talking about—the return of kids to school. For me it’s getting my living room and kitchen back after a season of having anywhere from 3 to 8 teenage boys hanging out.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that kids like hanging out at our house and I love the idea that my son likes to bring them here. Although, sometimes the thumping of the bass from their music in the basement keeps me awake or the smell of my son cooking pizza or cheesy scrambled eggs at midnight wafts into my dreams. And, I often go the refrigerator only to discover the ice cream, fruit or even milk is all gone.

One day I came home from the store with five bags of groceries. I set them down on the counter and went to the front door to let the cat out. By the time I came back two bags of cookies and two bags of chips had simply disappeared. It was like locusts moved across the kitchen eating everything in sight within seconds.

I’ve since learned to keep my favorite food items hidden. Although my son is pretty good at figuring out where I squirrel away anything chocolate, I still have a hiding spot or two he hasn’t discovered.

But, mostly, I know I can walk into any room where they are congregated, sit down, quiz them about what’s going on in their lives or listen to their conversation, and feel good about what nice kids they are.

They are interested in so many aspects of life and have formed opinions, some very interesting ones, about the world and what is going on it. They are well-informed, intelligent and interesting people. Part of me can’t wait to see what they grow up to be and part of me doesn’t want them to change and go away.

Naturally I love my son very much. Even better I like who he is. He is strong, intelligent, interesting, and sensitive and cares about other people. He has a wonderful sense of humor and a beautiful laugh. And, he surrounds himself with people who are also intelligent caring and funny.

As my son starts his last year of high school, my grandson Matt begins his school career as a kindergartner in Highland, Ind. The cycle of life continues to turn.

My grandson Matt is much like his uncle. He is smart and kind to his sister. He is sensitive and cares about other peoples feelings. He has an uncanny ability to know when his mother or Nana needs a hug or kiss. He is a beautiful little human being who looks up to and adores his uncle.

Time goes on whether we want it to or not but the passing of the seasons is sometimes bittersweet. The last year of high school and the first year of kindergarten are both milestones in a parent and grandparents life. It’s a sign that our beautiful babies are growing and that we too are growing older. But, it is also a sign that we can be proud of our children and the wonderful humans they are growing into…and a little sad at the passing of their childhood. But, then again, what mother doesn’t always see her son as her little boy no matter how old they grow.

Live, love, laugh!

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So Close To Being Homeless

Last weekend my husband and I headed to the big city for a concert and dinner. As we entered the building there was a man sitting in a ragged coat asking for money. Most of the people walking by ignored him but that didn’t seem to hinder his plea for a dollar.

            Seeing him reminded me of the years I worked in downtown Indy and the number of homeless people who roamed the streets. The president of our company was on the board of the Salvation Army and many of the people I worked with volunteered at various functions of that organization. We also volunteered at The Wheeler Mission.

            But, those are not the folks that stick in my memories. The ones I remember are like “Lilly.” She rolled her shopping cart around the downtown area. She wore a ragged brown coat and bright red knit hat. She huddled around her cart, usually muttering to herself and occasionally let out a screech at someone passing too close to her cart.

            There was the “penny man” who sat on one of the steps of the Monument downtown. On warm sunny days, many people filled those steps eating their lunches, talking and laughing. But the steps around the penny man were noticeably bare. He would call out to everyone who passed by, “got a penny, I need a penny, got a penny?”

            I once saw a little boy refuse to move on with his mother until she gave him a handful of pennies to give to the man. The stubborn little boy and gnarly man’s eyes met as the boy threw the pennies into the plastic cup. “Bless you, sonny,” said the penny man.

“No sir,” replied the boy. “Bless you.”

            After that day I always dropped my pennies into the penny man’s cup anytime I saw him. I would have put other money in but he only accepted pennies.

            But, the homeless person that most stands out in my memory is that of a woman who sat in the park across the street from the Indianapolis Star building. On cold days she would be inside the library.

            One afternoon when I was in the library doing some research she sat down across from me.

            “So, you like old buildings, do you?” she said looking me straight in the eye.

I smiled uncomfortably and explained I was looking for some old photos of our company because it was celebrating a centennial soon.

            “I use to love to look up information for my customers, but that was before,” she sighed.

            “Before what?” I asked thinking I’d never get back to my office if she kept talking to me.

            “Before I lost my job and my kids,” she said quietly. “I use to be a librarian. But then my husband died and later my library cut staff. I didn’t have a job. I couldn’t take care of my kids and the state took them after I was evicted.”

            Having said that, she abruptly got up and walked away. I was left somewhat dumbstruck. “There go I but for the grace of God,” popped into my head. I went back to my office without finishing my research.

            I use to see her from time to time and would nod and smile at her. But, she never looked at me or spoke.

            Recently several people were laid off at one of my old companies. Two of them are single moms with no other income and both had worked for this company for at least ten years. I was a single mom for many years and can imagine the anxiety and fear that came not knowing where the next paycheck would come.

Not only do you have to worry about yourself but your children. How do you feed them, clothe them and keep them warm at night?

So many people are only one or two paychecks away from being able to pay their bills or even put food on the table. It is a scary thought.

            Wasn’t there a time when companies took care of people? Today it seems everything is about the bottom line. Of course, companies have to make money and have to invest in improvements but isn’t investing in people one of the best ways to reap benefits.

I’ve worked for some very good companies who ended up eliminating jobs because of mergers, buyouts or going public. Why does a company lay off people in order to cut costs? There must be other ways to save money or cut expenses than to lose workers.

And, who pays for it in the end? Those of us who can and do pay taxes end up shouldering much of the burden.

            One-third of all the homeless today are people who have jobs. They are the poorest of the working poor, with jobs that pay so little that they can’t even afford a house to live in!

            Whole families are homeless, while the parents try to feed children with jobs that pay minimum wage. Requests for assisted housing by low income families and individuals increased last year by 86 percent. I can’t image what it will rise to this year.

            Everyday we hear about more and more people being laid off and companies closing. As they close, a domino effect begins causing other companies to decline and more workers being unemployed.

            I have no answers. I am going to say many more prayers for those less fortunate than I.     And, I am going to remember everyday, there go you or I but for the grace of God.



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Spring Break can break you

Ah, spring break, balmy breezes, sunny skies, and fun-filled nights except those of us left behind. This week while my daughter and her family headed off to Florida, Zoe and Shredder were left behind.
They got to spend the week with Nana and Grampy and cousin Sunny. Zoe who is ten years old has visited many times but little Shredder is new to the family. He is only two months old. Cousin Sunny is twelve and very set in his ways.
Sunny is also master of the house. To have this little upstart in our midst was not only disturbing but downright disagreeable. To make matters worse Shredder is a “mini me” of Sunny. Right down to the white ring around his neck.
Over time Sunny has learned to tolerate Zoe. In their early years together they would romp and play with one another as they were both about the same size. Sunny being older was expected to share his toys, food and water. He did so grudging.
But, this new character was just too much. Not only did this little fellow not know his place but everyone oohed and aahed over him. To make matters worse, Shredder was staying in his beloved boy’s room at night. Even Sunny was not always allowed in the teenager’s sanctuary at night.
Now, not only was he being ignored for this miniature-sized look alike but the little monster appeared to be taking over his spot in his companion’s heart.
And, every time Sunny reacted with a hiss or swat at the little dickens, he got in trouble. Sunny began to prefer sitting on the front porch to being inside the house. When heavy rain forced him inside, it also caused him to have to tolerate Shredder.
Three days into spring break and he found himself being stalked. Every where he went, Shredder followed. He snuck into the teenager’s room one night to sleep on the futon and awoke to find Shredder curled up beside him.
Suddenly Nana and Grampy were paying extra attention to him, petting and talking to him about being such a good cat. Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.
Still, from time to time, he had to have some alone time and would insist on taking his guard perch on the front porch—alone.
Yesterday, Zoe and Shredder went back home to Mom, Dad, Matt and Riley. Suddenly, the house was Sunny’s again. The gate to the kitchen was gone (Zoe can’t stay out of the trash so she wasn’t allowed in that room). Shredder could jump the gate while Sunny who tried jumping it the first day hurt his paw and refused to hurdle it again, would wait patiently for one of his servants to open and close it for him.
Now, his boy was paying attention to only him. He got an extra brushing and a new catnip toy. Still things are too quiet, a little lonely, but then again the couch is all his, he’s getting extra attention and knowing his luck—Zoe and Shredder will back to bug him this summer when their family goes on summer vacation.
Might as well start resting up now, maybe his boy won’t notice if he sneaks in to get a catnap on the futon.

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I hope you have two just like you

  My daughter called me last week to tell me they were getting new bunk beds for the kids. I snickered. “That’s nice I said. They will have fun with those.”
            Let me preface what I am gong to write next by stating that I love my children and grandchildren more than life itself. With that being said, there is some justice in the life of parents. Remember when you were a kid growing up and your parents would say things like, “just wait until you have kids of your own” or my favorite, “I hope you have two kids just like you some day.”

            Well, it came true. I had identical twin daughters when I turned 26. I got two just like me.
            When my daughters were young they got their first bunk beds. They were so excited they could hardly sleep waiting for their “big kid beds” to arrive. The big box came and their dad and I unloaded it and began the task of assembling it. A day and many swear words later; their beds were ready, complete with new Strawberry Shortcake comforters and sheets.

            We practiced climbing the ladder and keeping the child guard up. We even took turns in the top bunk. It didn’t take long for them to be comfortable in their new beds especially with all their stuffed animals tucked around them.
            We lived in Florida at the time and had ceiling fans in all the rooms of our house.
I waked into their bedroom to check on them one evening and found stuffed animals all over the room. They were on the dresser, the floor, the chair and in odd spots like the windowsill.
            “Hmm, that’s funny,” I thought to myself. How did they throw those all over the place? I picked them up and tucked them back into bed with the girls.
            This scenario went on for several days. I was confused and when I asked my daughters about it, they would giggle and say, “They can fly mommy.”
            I finally wised up and went in earlier to check on them. You know what’s coming. One of them was on the top bunk loading animals onto the fan blades. The other was standing by the on and off button on the wall.
            I gasped in fear that the one on the top of the bed would get hit by the fan blades. I sat them down and gave them a long talk. They assured me they wouldn’t put any more stuffed animals on the fan blades. I kissed them and tucked them in again.
            The next night after they had been put to bed I heard a thumping sound coming from their room. I ran to see what was causing the noise. One of them was hanging on the fan blades with her legs thumping against the safety rail of the bed. I got there just before the other one turned the on switch.
            I grabbed her hand away from the switch and then grabbed the one hanging from the fan. My heart was pounding, my head spinning. I held them close for a minute and then I let them have it.
            They slept on the couch that night while we took the bunk beds apart and disabled the ceiling fan.
Years later we would tell the story and laugh.  “But mom, you said we couldn’t put our stuffed animals on it. You didn’t say anything about us being on it,” they would chortle.

            We started talking about the time my daughter had a fit in the grocery store and wouldn’t stop crying. I picked her up to take her out of the store because that was what I said I would do if she wouldn’t behave. Of course we were at the back of the store.

            As I wound my way to the front of the store and out the door she continued to cry and added a scream. “Help me, help me somebody help me,” she hollered over and over. I was so embarrassed and so mad at her that by the time I got her to the car, I had to put her inside and stand outside for a few moments to cool down.

            Later, we could laugh about the episode. When she got older, she thought it was hilarious.

            Last week she called me very upset because our darling granddaughter had thrown a fit in the store and refused to stop screaming. So, mom had to carry her out of the store while she screamed, “No, no, no, don’t take me” all the way to the car.

            My daughter was mortified. “Mom, people looked at me like I was abducting her. It was awful.”

            I snickered, I couldn’t help it.  “Mom, it’s not funny,” she said.

            “It will be later,” I said. Then I giggled again. “Remember, the help me, help me episode you always thought was so funny.

            “Oh mom,” she said with disdain. Then she started to giggle.
            Today, my daughter called me. Apparently they have had to take down the ceiling fan in the kids’ bedroom. It seems my two darling grandchildren got caught loading stuffed animals on the blades of the fan to see if they could fly.

            “Oh honey. I’m sorry to hear that,” I said with a little snicker. And, I laughed out loud a few minutes later when I heard her say to her kids. “When you grow up, I hope you have two kids just like you.”

            Maybe there is justice for parents after all. Snicker.

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