Posts Tagged ‘family’

It’s Bigger than You.

My Grandma Helen was one of the best people I’ve ever met – probably the best. She espoused “Christian” values in the very best way possible – through her actions. Each morning, she spent an hour or two praying for everyone from her family to the president. She taught until her late 60s, when the district said she had to retire. Then she ran the homeschool division of her school district until she had to retire from there too. After that, she tutored children in her hometown. She adopted three children in her life – two as infants (including my father) & one after her children were grown & her husband had passed – a teenage girl. She always had food for anyone who stopped by, and she drove “elderly” members of her church to the store & to worship until she gave up her driver’s license around age 90.

Our lives are very different. With 75 years separating our years of birth, I know aspects of my life would be shocking to her (but I married him, Grandma, so the living together doesn’t count – right??), as hers would be to me. However, since I was a small child, she impressed upon me that we are bigger than ourselves. We’re a part of a community – be that at our home, school, church, city or even larger level.

I have always had her in my mind when volunteering – sometimes expressly volunteering at an activity that I know she’d have loved to do herself, sometimes as an afterthought, an “I wish I could tell her about this” moment. This morning, as part of Love Modesto, I took carnations & conversation to people in a couple of retirement homes, something Grandma did at Bethany Home for as long as I was alive, certainly, until she went there herself. When talking with a woman who missed her grandchildren who were away at college, I started crying, and we talked about my grandma for quite a while. As we left, the woman took my hand and told me that my grandma would be proud of me and the adult I became, and I’m just holding onto that today.

I’m so grateful for my life, my home, my husband & family, but especially that I had such a strong inspiration early on. It’s a sentimental day, and I do miss my grandma.


In 70 Minutes…

The first person who I remember from gestation on is going to turn 18. I remember her as a squalling infant & she is, very shortly, going to be a legal adult. Although I don’t put too much stock in what a certain age should feel like, I do know that this made me pause. One uncomfortable moment came when I remembered a conversation I had with her as I turned 18. She was 5 & impressed by my advanced age. She asked me how old I’d be when she turned 18 (“finally turned 18” is how she, at 5, phrased it), and I laughed and said, “Wow! 31!”

Suddenly 31 isn’t seeming so wow-worthy.

Regardless, she is beautiful, moody, bright, frustrating, gregarious, a high-school graduate & has a wicked sense of humor. Happy birthday, Lily.

Raisin Bran Muffins

My mom used to make these muffins when I was growing up. My Great-Uncle Harry loved them so much that my mom only made it in bulk & she’d send a large portion of batter home with him so that he could enjoy them again at home. Be careful. You will certainly want to cut down the recipe if you are making it for yourself. It makes several dozen muffins.

  • 3c sugar
  • 1qt buttermilk
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1c oil
  • 5c flour
  • 5t baking soda
  • 2t salt

Sift the dry ingredients together. Add everything else. Combine. Add one 15oz package of Raisin Bran. Mix thoroughly. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Use as needed – will keep a couple of weeks. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.


One of the best traditions that my family has regarding Thanksgiving is making everyone welcome. There has always been enough room for one (or twenty) more & I truly appreciate the generosity / open-door policy. As the emails have been flying around regarding dinner menus (potluck, so my mom & aunt do the basics and everyone else brings a dish or two), I’ve seen the list grow & expand until the current total of dinner guests is, I believe, 28. I love that.

The list is currently comprised of my mother, her three daughters, their three husbands, the three kids + a friend of my niece’s, my best friend & her boyfriend, my aunt, her son and his fiancée (my other cousin and his wife are in Australia for two months – color me envious), my aunt’s boyfriend (ooh la la), his daughter, her husband, their three kids, my uncle (aunt’s ex-husband), a couple who are friends with my cousins + their child, a couple who are longtime friends & possibly someone else I’m missing.

I guess I’m just thankful that our homes & tables are open to all & that this holiday is approached with the idea of sharing it with everyone. Also, be jealous of the quantity of food that will be served – 5 types of appetizers, 2 turkeys,  mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing,  jello salad, wine, hot cider, three types of vegetables, two types of salad, buns, stuffed mushrooms, and, of course, apple & berry & pumpkin pies. What a feast!

My Mom

My mom scares the heck out of me. She lives alone in a house that’s too big for her on a lot that’s too big for her & she doesn’t really like / allow anyone else in or around there. She has aged at least a decade (or more)  in the last 5 years (especially after my grandma, her mother, died) & she cannot even walk by herself because she’s a) fallen & not gotten physical therapy, and b) is afraid of falling, so she shuffles & refuses to lift her leg to step up on a curb without assistance). She’s 66. This is unreasonable.

One of the reasons we’re looking for a new house is so that we can build a “granny flat” on it where she can live. We can make sure she walks around + isn’t lying in pain on the ground like she was today when she fell. I truly do not know what to do with someone who’s so young & acts / walks like she’s 25 years older.

I’m just so worried about her & I know she isn’t happy & her back is wrenched & I’m taking tomorrow off to help her out & this is bad all around & I want her to live forever. Ugh.

Small Note

I firmly believe that I age myself based on the first person whose entire life I remember. In my case, it’s my niece. I was 13 when she was born, and I completely remember the day it was announced that my sister was pregnant, how she looked when she was full term, my niece coming home from the hospital & her entire life after that. It has been humbling watching her grow up because I tracked my adolescence and young-adulthood by things I’ve done with her. We have a peculiar & enduring friendship & I genuinely like her a lot.

Amazingly, she turns 17 today. 17 years ago today was the first Saturday after I exited junior high school & I declined the offer of going to the hospital (early in the morning! like 9am!), but she’s been around ever since. She’s gorgeous, tall (5’9″ and a bit – and the doctor just told her she’s still growing – insert maniacal laugh there), bright, flighty, sassy, creative & very, very dear. So, happy birthday to her!

P.S. She is currently trying not to scratch off all her extremities while battling a ferocious case of chicken pox, so this birthday may be more memorable than most for her – albeit for completely the wrong reasons!

I Get It from Her!

The guy & I did not attend each other’s Mother’s Day celebrations on Sunday (boring story, but it involves a doozy of a fight, a broken picture frame & not getting cards / presents until the last minute). My side of the family just got together at my grandmother’s house for a little lunch & present exchanging (also my younger sister’s birthday & the day before my nephews’ birthday – they’re twins).

The five of us (sisters, niece, mother, me) were in the kitchen chatting while my brother-in-law played with the boys. I explained my ire about the whole situation (rapidly fading since there are few people who can defuse my irritation like the female members of my family in the right mood), and we ended up laughing over it.

Later on, my mother called my husband, who she likes very much. When I answered, she asked to speak to him. He was way out in the garage, so I inadvertently listened to part of their conversation as I was shutting the door and walking back. This is what I heard:

Him: Oh, hi. What’s up?

Him: (hurriedly) Yes, OF COURSE I mean, “Happy Mother’s Day!” How WAS it?!