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Friday, February 17, 2017

Opal's Button Box

Nora's middle name is Opal.  Named for her great grandmother, my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, she does not yet realize all the ways she connects with her great-grandmother every day.  Since we share a home, she is with me often and does not yet know when she calls me - "Granmary" or climbs in my lap, she is connecting not only by relationship but in ways that I grandparent.  My own grandmother modeled grandparenting for me, but Opal did so by being a wonderful Nana to our boys. Then there are countless ways that come into everyday life - the results of my upbringing in a home with parents who valued faith and family.  Last week, Nora discovered the magic and mystery of Opal's Button Box.  The buttons in a discarded kitchen cannister are leftovers from not only her many years of sewing but also her mother's, my grandmother. They never threw buttons away but saved them carefully for reuse and repurposing. If a shirt could no longer be mended, they cut off the buttons and saved them,  using the fabric scraps in another way. There are baby buttons, the one or two buttons from a card of buttons purchased to march down the front of dresses and blouses and coats, shirt buttons, glass buttons, plastic buttons, wooden buttons, and metal buttons. Nora is only beginning to discover the thrill of handling them, and ways she can use them. So in this photo, she finds the fun in making print and pattern in play dough - all with Opal's buttons. Since then, she has carried them around in one of her own boxes and speaks with pride of her own buttons.  She says buT Tons, and I love it.  Today, she told me she needs more buttons.  She is acting true to her heritage.  Mother would be proud.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Shell Seeker

One of my favorite authors is Rosamunde Pilcher.  Her novel, Shell Seekers is my favorite of her writings.  Made into a movie and enjoyed by many others, this book is one of the few I saved when I packed so many of our books away to be given to to others and donated to the library last year when we moved to share a home with our youngest son Ben and his family. I kept books I knew I would like to read again.

I thought of the book's title when Nora remembered my shell basket yesterday and ran to pull it from under my bed.  She loves to sort the shells and is most fond of the tiniest shells.  We spent a long time handling the shells and talking about how beautiful each one is.  She knows the names of a few.  Later, she will learn more.  For now, it is enough to delight in them, to touch them, and pretend. She is a little shell seeker.

Our sons loved shells and liked to keep them.  Jeremy had quite a collection so many of these are his. Many of them came from the beaches on Sanibel Island, Florida, where our family spent time in 1980. The tulip shells came from a flat boat journey out to the mud flats.All of our sons talk about that trip and the fun they had being shell seekers. There are many years between their shell hunting and Nora's discovery of the same shells. The family story is still being written.  I am grateful for the seeking and the finding and the keeping, of shells, and of story.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Promise of Spring

Last week I found Forsythia branches at my grocery store!  I like to stroll through the flower offerings although I seldom buy flowers for myself.  But I love bringing forsythia and plum and pussy willow to bloom inside when the outside is still bleak and cold.  These branches responded promptly, beginning to flower the very next day, and continuing to delight us every day since.  Spring started on my kitchen counter!  So I am browsing the seed catalogs and beginning garden plans while smiling everytime I see these yellow blossoms.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Baby Doll

Nora has played with wooden toys once loved by her Daddy but even though she had seen this doll, only a few days ago did she begin to play with it and "mother" it. She has rocked the baby to sleep in her wicker rocking chair, wrapped her in a blanket and carried her around.  This doll was mine when I was a little girl, and although her face and hands and feet are well preserved, her cloth body is worn and stuffing is showing. This baby is like the skin horse in the Velveteen Rabbit book, she is "real"- she has been well loved, a good thing when you are 70 years old!

I was older than Nora when I got this doll, 7 yearrs old. My best friend and I were in second grade.  We played after school, had sleepovers, dressed her kitten, and talked our mothers into getting us matching dolls. Mignon got hers first and named hers Wendolyn, called Wendy. I named this one Gwendolyn, called Gwen. We played with the dolls and treasured them.  We also loved being friends, and still are to this day!  I do not know if Mignon still has her doll, but this one continues to delight a little girl.  

I will do my best to repair the cloth tears and keep her stuffing in because Nora asked me to fix her!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Heart Full of Gratitude

Today, January 20, 2017 is a day with a heart full of gratitude for me.

Forty-nine years ago, I almost died due to a massive postpartum hemorrhage. My newborn son was 1 week old. I was at home with him and my mother, who had come to help after his birth. My husband, Joe, was at work in San Antonio.  As a registered nurse, I recognized the severity immediately. I called the weekend answering service for my doctor, and I called my husband to come home as soon as he could. I should have called an ambulance. There was a lack of accurate information understood by the on-call physician, who probably thought I was overreacting, and Joe had to drive through flooded streets to get home.  By the time he got there and scooped me up into the back seat of our car, I was not able to talk anymore  I remember praying - for me, for Joe, for our baby son.  I was not aware of the fact that since the Nix Memorial Hospital building on the river in downtown San Antonio, had no wheel chair or stretcher where he was able to park, he carried me to the elevator and up to the floor where I was admitted. By the time I was evaluated, I could hear the nurses saying things like "blood pressure dropping" and "can't find a pulse" and could not speak to tell them not to give up.  It is absolutely true that a person who cannot respond hears.

By that time my own doctor had received the emergency message and arrived.  He personally helped to get blood started and pumped it in manually.  I remember the cold rushing up my arm. As soon as I was stabilized, I was taken to the O.R. to do what was necessary to stop the hemorrhage.  I  was hospitalized for a week.  I missed my baby. I worried about him and my sweet mom, suddenly thrust from the role of proud Nana holding her her first grandson to fill in full time for me. Joe tried to work and take care of all of us. 

I do not tell the story often, but today, one week after Sean's 49th birthday, I am flooded with thanksgiving for those 49 years of his life, and for those 49 years God-given to me. Joe is by my side.  We have two more sons. We have six precious grandchildren. I have been blessed with a full life, friends, and family. I look at the photo above, taken on the first evening of 2017, and can only say thank you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Gift of Each Other

One of my greatest joys as a grandmother is witnessing the joy that my granddaughters have in being together, and now, the joy with which they have welcomed their new baby boy cousin.  I remember playing with my cousins when I was small, and am so glad they treasure their times together, the gift of each other.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


We are so happy to have Jeremy and his family with us this week.  Maddie and Jordann went with me to pick out a charm for their bracelets since that was part of their Christmas present.   We had fun looking and they chose very carefully. Jordann wanted a snowflake, but not just any snowflake, she found one that was just right for her.  Maddie chose tiny angel wings because they reminded her of the angel at the top of a Christmas tree. We talked about charms they might add in the future, how long they might have their bracelets and who they might pass them to in years to come.  I was the one who was charmed.  Conversations with my granddaughters are one of my favorite things in all the world.