Monday, March 25, 2013

Grammy Knows Best!

Spring in many parts of the country is blue skies, birds chirping, and a warm breeze floating by.  But, in Pittsburgh, PA, March is grey clouds, silence, and cold winds with snow five inches deep. 

So when I was rudely awakened today by the sound of shovel scrapes across frozen cement, I knew there was work to be done.  I hopped on my trusty broom and ( no, I am not a witch) began sweeping the heavy, wet white stuff from our 25ft. walkway that leads out to the street. Why venture to the street this early, you might ask?  Well, because the morning paper delivery guy always drops it there!  Otherwise I'd let the damn snow pile up to the rooftop and it won't bother me at all. 

You also might be inclined to question why I even get a morning newspaper.  Why not just jump on the internet and click on "News of the Day"?  Remember, I'm a grammy, and although I've embraced most modern-day advances, reading the happenings of the world and our community on a laptop iPad, or SmartPhone just doesn't do it for me.  There's nothing like sitting in my recliner with a steaming cup of java chuckling over the recent missteps of the federal, state, and local government knuckleheads.  If I didn't find it funny, I'd be in a mental ward suffering from severe depression.  And I just couldn't start my day without reading the hilariously true-to-life comic strips or the tear-jerking "Dear Annie" columns.  But I digress.  Back to the snow situation.

The shovel scraping that had been going on for at least thirty minutes was being done by my twenty year old neighbor from across the street.  She's a lovely girl who is doing her student teaching this year.  Megan was wearing winter attire that defied any type of coldness from reaching her tender skin.  I'll let you use your imagination to conjure up how she was dressed and what she looked like. Her strategy for snow removal was to dig deeply into it, laboriously lift each shovelful, and hurl it about two feet away in order to clear their 15ft.driveway.  Megan had to stop several times to regain her strength and her motivation.

I, on the other hand, stepped out into the inclement weather in my cotton robe, rubber-soled slippers, and, of course, my trusty broom. With one determined sweep on each step, I shifted the snow to the lef, did the same on the 25ft. walkway and was at the street in less than five minutes.  Just before I bent down to pick up the paper, I glanced Megan's way.  She, too, was looking at me.  I smiled; her face reflected bewilderment.  She then trudged up her driveway; I scampered over my walkway, up the steps and into the door where my steaming cup of java awaited.

The entire point of this whole story is to again show our young people that Grammy knows best and can certainly teach them some very important life lessons.  And in Pittsburgh, perhaps one essential lesson in March is choosing the proper attire for removing the snows of PA and the most efficient way of doing so! 

Pay attention, youngins, Grammy knows best and she does look smashing in her cotton robe, too!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Child Left Behind

On Saturday morning three people from Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA, the bus driver and the head coach of the women's lacrosse team, Kristina Quigley, and her unborn son, were killed traveling to a weekend match. A tragedy indeed.  We know little about the bus driver.  However, Kristina Quigley was the beloved coach and mentor of her lacrosse team as well as colleague and friend to many Seton Hill University administrators, professors and staff. She was active in the community and embraced charitable causes because she cared about others.

More importantly, Kristina was a wife and mother.  She left behind a loving husband and a two and a half year old son.  Her husband is devastated and will be in mourning for a very long time.  He now must be father and mother to their young boy. Family and friends will support him in his hour of need and for many years to come.  They will be his rock and his soft place to fall.  They will counsel him and eventually encourage him to move on with his life. In time he will be able to live, laugh, and possibly love again.

But what of the child?  At two and a half, this boy has no concept of death.  Mommy went on a trip as she had done many times before and would be back on Sunday night.  He would be asleep when she crept into his room and kissed his cheek and smiled with pride at her sweet, sweet son. When he awoke, Mommy would be in the kitchen making breakfast, his favorite, pancakes smothered in maple syrup.  She would help him dress for daycare and another day would play out as always.

But she wouldn't be.  What now?  This little child would now see Daddy crying, uncontrollably at times, be overtaken by the family gathering where people talk in hushed tones or sob on each other's shoulders, and, above all, be overwhelmed by the fact that Mommy isn't home on this Monday morning.  She would never be home again although he doesn't realize that now.

I was three and a half when my Dad died in an industrial accident.  Everything this child has already experienced and everything he will experience throughout his life I have lived for the past 65 years.  I wish I could tell him that in a short time everything will return to normal.  It won't.  No matter how loving his Dad is, no matter how much family's and friends' involvement will be from this moment forward, he will always be the child left behind.

Because he is so young, he can't verbalize what he is feeling, the depth of which he can't possibly understand; he can only feel.  And from personal experience, I can tell you he is extremely afraid, totally confused, and even guilt-ridden by the loss of his beloved mother. Time and discussion with Dad, family, and even professionals will help him grasp this tragedy intellectually.  He won't fear death any more than all of us do; he'll understand that accidents do happen, and he will see that he had nothing to do with his mother's death.

But in his heart and soul he will always grieve for the mother who left him behind; he will always wonder what life would have been like had she been there for him; and he will always wish Mommy was there every step of the way.  He will always be the child left behind.  I know that for a fact.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Grammy, who needs her?

After reading another "Dear Annie" where a grandmother is upset over the fact that her one and only daughter will not allow her any quality time with her first-born grandson, I decided I needed to get tough with these entitled, ungrateful grown children who all of a sudden know more about raising "baby" than their mothers and fathers ever did.

To you ingrates I offer some sound advice.  Look, when we grammies were young mothers we didn't know squat about caring for infants.  It was our mothers who were there to answer any and all questions, provide alternatives for persistent problems, and yes, even physically come to our aid when we were desparate. We were rookies then; you are rookies now.  Don't be so stupid to think just because you've read every parent magazine, gone to countless parenting classes, and have exchanged thoughts with your equally clueless girlfriends, you are totally prepared to handle everything in the life of your little one.  You're not! And won't be until you are the grammy of a newborn.

If you are lucky enough to have a mom and dad(grandparents now) to turn to at this eventful time in your life, have the smarts to take full advantage of their expertise and experience.  They made mistakes, a lot of them when raising you, but they've learned from them.  They are willing and able to share these with you so as to minimize your uncertainty and anxiety throughout the rearing process.

"Pride cometh before a fall" and, believe me, you will fall many times being a mom.  Asking for advice and being grateful for the time to actually have grammy and papap interact with your child from birth is a blessing that not everybody gets.  Instead of being a "know-it-all" be thankful to the grandparents your child has and you can certainly learn from.

If you think this harsh, then I've accomplished my goal.  If you accept this advice, then you'll be able to pass it on to your children when you are "grammy!"