Monday, March 30, 2015

LIFE, NEW and RENEWED by Flo Barnett

I think the story of my own birth is a good way to begin a discussion on new life. I was born in Baba's house on a September Saturday in 1944. It was suppertime, and my Mom couldn't wait for her favorite meal, steak smothered in onions, and mashed potatoes drenched in butter. Unfortunately her water broke and sent her into labor,denying her the pleasure of actually eating the dinner she'd looked forward to all day. Instead she retreated to her upstairs bedroom and waited for Dr. Stimetz to arrive. Since the good doctor lived next door, she was by my mother's side in minutes. As Mom pushed, and the rest of the family nervously waited in the hallway, eventually I entered the world, kicking and screaming, or so I'd been told over and over again while growing up. 

After thoroughly examining the newly-born babe, Dr. Stimetz handed me over to Baba to be cleaned and clothed. As my grandmother whisked me down the stairs and into her kitchen, she secretly rejoiced over the fact that I was a girl. Again, I know this because over the course of many years, she mentioned it at least a million times. Baba filled her huge mixing bowl with warm water, and carefully placed me inside its white walls. This was the same bowl she used every Easter when making the dough for Paska, the special Slovak bread we enjoyed only once a year during the holy season of the Resurrection. As she gently washed the afterbirth from my tiny body, Baba noticed that I appeared to be struggling to breathe. She placed me in a soft towel, dried me, and then rubbed a dollop of Vicks salve under my nose. However, because of the powerful strength of the vapors, instead of alleviating the congestion, I turned blue and stopped breathing altogether. To have this precious new life for such a short time was something my Baba refused to accept. Quickly she began CPR. Within seconds, I let out a garbled cry, and voraciously began sucking air into my deprived lungs. When Dr. Stimetz entered the kitchen, she found my Baba clutching me closely to her bosom with tears streaming down her face. In a shaky voice, she told the doctor what she had done. Dr. Stimetz comforted Baba by saying that this infant was destined to do something special since she had been given new life twice in the course of just one day, a rare medical occurrence by any standards. Whatever it was that I was meant to accomplish, I hope I've made at least some strides in fulfilling my purpose. From that life-saving moment on, my Baba and I shared a unique bond that only grew stronger and stronger with every passing year, and will remain alive and well always and forever.

Spring and Easter are favorites of mine perhaps because they arrive together with warm temps, gentle breezes, and soft rains. Both the season and the holiday are symbolic of new and renewed life. Whether coming into the world newborn, or awakening from a winter's sleep, all life is pure and fresh again. There is a joy and lightness of spirit that fills the Earth unlike at any other time of year. 

Deviled Easter Chicks

To me, spring and Easter are synonymous with new and renewed life.There's A Baby In Mommy's Belly!, the fourth book of my 'Grammys Gang' series, explains pregnancy and birth to young children in a very funny and appropriate manner. Hammie, the illustrative version of my grandson, Beckham, is told there's a baby in his Mommy's belly and the news befuddles him. Maybe his Dad or Liam, his big brother, can set things straight, but when they fail to offer a satisfactory explanation, Hammie takes matters into his own hands. He begins spying on his mother who's constantly eating and getting fatter and fatter. One morning, while cuddling on the couch together, Mommy's tummy starts moving wildly about, scaring her son silly. At another time, with the family gathered around the dinner table, a puddle suddenly appears around Mommy's feet. Dad makes a frantic call to Grammy and then hurries Mommy off to the hospital where perhaps finally this mystery will be solved.

One important reason I wrote There's A Baby In Mommy's Belly! was to provide parents with an excellent tool to utilize when a son or daughter begins asking questions about an impending birth. The story, which is extremely entertaining, can be taken at face value, or it can be used in a more educational manner. Parents decide what, when, and how much to say depending on the child's maturity level. Even if there isn't a baby in Mommy's belly, children and adults will delight in this fast-paced, funny and factual tale as they read it again and again simply for enjoyment.

Although I'm mostly known for my 'Grammy's Gang' series, I've also written three chapter books for ages 9-99. The 'When We Were Kids' collection is comprised of three books: Playing Hooky, Puppy Love, and Pimples and PeriodsThese stories take place in the Fifties, 'the good old days'  which they are often called, and indeed they were. In general, life was celebrated, nurtured, and supported. The ties that bound all of us were rooted in religious beliefs, values, and ethnicity. Mostly everybody in our neighborhood attended the same church, went to the same school, and practiced the same cultural traditions.

Yet while growing up I can honestly say there were problems in society, but certainly not to the same degree in which they plague today's world. Perhaps our lives were more wholesome because of the family structure during those times. Not only was there a father and mother present, but in many cases such as my own, babas, zedos, uncles, and aunts actually lived in the household and were major factors in the growth and development of the children. 

These chapter books were written with tweens and teens in mind, but I've found that many adults, parents, grandparents, and teachers see them as an excellent way to renew a connection with their past. The baby boomers, born during the WWII era, share a special bond with the Kolinski kids, growing up and going through many of the same things that Betty Lou and Danny experienced.

Celebrating new life or life renewed gives eternal hope to all of us. Every baby born has the potential to be the person that brings peace to the world. Every child who is raised with faith,values,and morals has the opportunity to imbue his or her children with the very same ideals. Every teenager who has decided to live a life free of drugs and alcohol has opened the door for his or her peers to do likewise. And every adult who has chosen to be of service to family, friends, and all in need has been instrumental inspiring a renewal of life.


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Happy Spring, Happy Easter, and Happy Life!

love ya'll


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