What happens on girl trips?



Somewhere, towards the end of an unusually long, cold, patience-busting winter, there comes a summons.  It can take the form of a text, e-mail or phone call and almost always contains the word beach.  Hearts respond and flap like the wings of migratory birds, all caution to the wind.  The chosen few force themselves to forget their many responsibilities and actually entertain the thought that their families could actually function without them for a week, and they go forth.

They travel alone or in pairs, by plane or automobile and arrive at random times.  They exchange squeals and hugs of salutation again and again as each one arrives. They give each other long adoring looks. There is genuine happiness in being together.  They pick up old conversations, for they instinctively know that no conversation is ever really over. They can carry on multiple conversations, talking at the same time on various subjects and they somehow, magically understand each other.

There is suddenly a new-found freedom to eat what you want, shop for glitzy shoes, stay up late, sleep in, dance like a teenager, share stories, books, recipes, opinions.  Everyone becomes an authority on everything and it is okay.  There are serious discussions and light-hearted talk, tears and belly laughter.  Empathy and hope are lavishly distributed.

On a girls trip nothing ever gets done.  Ain’t that grand?











Emptying the house

Letters tied with string, recipes in a box, pictures in frames.

A ceramic lamp, a goose neck rocker, a candy dish.

The night table with ringed water marks, the desk with the sun-bleached side, the sofa with the tear in the fabric, the worn flowered rug.

The corner cupboard her uncle made, the dining suite she refinished by hand, the treasured piece of jewelry, the cedar chest she called hope.

Her mother’s crackled mixing bowls, a golfing cup with Daddy’s name, toys we played with as children (as did our children and then their children).

One hundred-plus years, sorted, packed and distributed. Gone in a day.

Antiques to the dealer, mattresses for the dump, boxes for various charities, small treasures packed in cars .

Somewhere, someone will fill the candy dish, make rolls and set the table. Someone will pay a bill and place the receipt in the right hand slot in the desk.  Someone will set a glass of water on the nightstand and rock a baby in the rocking chair.

But it won’t be her.

Oh God, it won’t be her.

An open letter to my Grandson


Dear Cole,

You are one of the great gifts of my life, the gift that made me a grand person.  It will be many years before you know what that means because it is a secret reserved for grandparents alone.  You may gather clues along the way that may help you imagine what it is like to love someone as much as your grandfather and I love you, and I will try to describe it now, on this, your tenth birthday.

When you were born and I first held you, I immediately realized that you were the one.  The one that would fill a place in my arms and heart that had been specifically designed and reserved for you. You have filled that place with joy ever since.  You captured me with your laugh and your smile,  a smile that I’ve watched through many changes.  I loved your baby smile that was all gum and then you got your tiny teeth.  In a little while those baby teeth came loose and you put each one under your pillow and flashed a jack-o-lantern type grin.  Now your face beams with metal covered teeth and multi-color bands, but no matter what’s going on with your teeth, your smile is the one that makes me know that all is well with the world.

When I hear your voice call my name and see you running up to give me a hug, I could explode with happiness.  I love everything about you, just because you are you.   I can see evidence of the man you are growing up to be and I can see God at work in you.  He has given you good qualities and abilities, friends and family, challenges and opportunities.

You love athletics and you play hard and well.  You want to win but seem to know that winning is not everything and that you can learn valuable lessons from losing.  When your performance disappoints you, you sometimes show it, but you know how to shake it off.  You enjoy playing with others but are happy to be alone.  I love the worlds you make with your imagination.  You allow others, like me, into your wonderful world of legos and superheros.  You share your magical creations and you let me help.  You are patient with me.  We share stories and movies, games and music.  I think that you really like music.  Music seems to move effortlessly through your veins because the way you sing and dance is uniquely your own, reflecting your easy, soulful, carefree, elegant style.

You notice the people around you and you care about them.  You are kind.  You love your sister and are respectful to your parents.  You have friends.  When you argue with your sister or your friends you stick up for your beliefs.  Sometimes you get angry but you are quick to say you are sorry.  You forgive and move on.  You do not hold a grudge.  You are generous and you are grateful.

You are so smart.  You have the gift of a dyslexic mind.  You will continue to discover the brilliance of that mind.  It took some special teachers and a lot of hard work on your part to learn to read, but wow, once you did, you can not put your books away.  I don’t know of too many kids who read all 7 Harry Potter books before they were ten years old.  I think you appreciate reading much more than most kids your age.  My own theory is that the Dyslexic mind is so brilliant the rest of us couldn’t understand all that’s in it all at once, so it’s kind of locked up.  It is a puzzle that will frustrate, entertain and amaze you all your life as you keep discovering what you have to offer the world.  I am so very, very proud of you.

At grandparents day you asked me the question:  “What advice do you want to give me?”  I had to answer quickly.

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, my answer remains the same,  Always believe that you are as wonderful as your Pepper and Nee Nee think you are.

Happy birthday, Cole.