Monday, September 1, 2008


Two times of year cause me to reflect: January and September. But let's forget about January. I've never met a resolution I liked-- or kept-- and I don't like being told what to do, though for pure entertainment, being told what to do can hardly be beat. As I read articles about losing weight, meeting one's soulmate or landing the perfect job, I feel smug and ornery: That would never work! How stupid! No way!

But September is another story. For many years it was the real beginning of a new year. New classes (though most schools begin in August now), new shoes, new teachers and friends. New Sunday School department. New, new, new. Having a September birthday gave the month even more importance. I'm sixteen now! Things will be different!

When our first baby was born on the first day of September, it seemed only appropriate. Finally things were going to be different. I really did have new goals, and I didn't need Parent magazine to tell me what they were. I probably couldn't have articulated them beyond the basic concepts of protect, take care of, and nurture, but I began understanding "new" in a way I never had before.

And so today begins another September. The baby lives hundreds of miles away. Most of my memories have little to do with her current reality, or even with my own. I remember watching her learn to walk, and now she's training for a marathon. I, on the other hand, am contemplating natural remedies for arthritic knees! What hasn't changed for me is the sweet wistfulness, the prayerful longing, and the passion for the journey I began on the day she came into my world.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life. As I Know It.

Summer for me has ended, as I went back to work at the residence hall at Baylor last Monday. My computer had been moved from one end of the long desk (it's more like a counter) to the other-- my first adjustment. After that, it was new students, new numbers, new t-shirts, new IDs, and-- of course!-- new freshmen parents! Dutifully they stood in line with their offspring and asked the questions their students were too shy to ask, such as "Should he have brought his own toilet paper?" It was an exhilarating and exhausting week.

Every day after work I drive across town to a nursing home where my Aunt Netsy is living. It has been an exhausting time for her, too. My own fatigue is the result of trying to navigate the maze of Good Care. What is it and how do I help get it for her? My cousin and I talk often and plot our next moves. I am sobered by the inescapable fact that I worked in long-term care for fifteen years, myself-- if it's this tough for me, how do other nursing home residents and family members manage, even survive, it?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hospital, Sweet Hospital

I'm not ready to give up on blogging. I say that as much to myself as to any reader who might stop by even after all these days of No News. I tried closing the blog several months ago, and I missed the idea of having it just as much as, or maybe more than, the actual writing. It's some place to go, you know?

I can't remember a more miserable summer, weather-wise, than this one. I know we've had hotter ones, but the combination of the heat and the humidity and the absence of rain have worn on me. My Aunt Netsy has had a rough summer beginning in May. She broke her hip, had surgery, entered a nursing home for rehab, got a sudden painful infection, entered the hospital and stayed 10 days, and is now back at the nursing home where more rehab awaits. You've just been given the condensed version. She and I both agree that We'd Rather Be at Starbucks.

Frankly her ordeal makes me question my previous desire to live a long life. The extra years seem to come with a price. But I don't think I'm up to examining that subject this morning, and so I'll share with you a few of my observations from spending many hours bedside in the hospital.

1. I do not speak English very well. Why else would the same desk clerk, sitting at the same nurses station, stare at me with fish-eyes as I was speaking, then respond-- every time!-- "Wait, wait, what are you talking about?"

2. It's the little things, that turn out to be big things, that separate adequate nurses from good ones. Sadly, the Adequates are greater in number than the Goods. But in the interest of honesty and optimism, I can't say that we encountered a single Bad One.

3. In Waco, Texas, you're supposed to drink iced tea with your meals. It doesn't matter if you've never liked tea, or if you carefully explain at every mealtime that you would prefer juice, coffee or even water, you will be given iced tea in Waco, Texas.

4. Hospital gowns, though always open in the back, come in an amazing variety of lengths. They are plain and rather stark; Aunt Netsy commented that a crocheted collar on them would greatly improve their appeal.

5. Hospital breakfasts are not bad at all. I've eaten more grits during the past 10 days than I've eaten in my entire life.

6. Medical personnel do not share information with each other. They would much rather have you repeat it over and over. I've been told there is a reason for this, so that they can hear the patient explain her own history, but I don't buy it. I was repeatedly asked, "Why is she taking Cumidon?" The questioner(s) never seemed impressed by my answer of, "I'm not sure, my cousin Kay was the one who took her to those appointments and she's currently in New Mexico helping her husband Dewey build their dream cabin and she's not where I can reach her easily because otherwise I'd call her up right now so that you wouldn't have to read my aunt's medical record or call the cardiologist...." I admit I didn't add that last phrase, but it wouldn't have mattered-- The Inquisitor was already interrupting me to ask the next (unnecessary?) question.

7. There are many different ways of moving a frail, hurting 89 year old from one place to another. Some ways are so much better than others.

8. Being blessed with "good hair" can get a female patient a lot of favorable attention, especially in Texas where good hair is very important. Aunt Netsy has has a frail little body but very, very good hair.

9. Students should not be sent to draw blood from an elderly person with bad veins. It happened twice and was a disaster both times. Let them learn on someone else.

10. Modern medicine has its faults but it is also an amazing process that I am truly grateful for. I was and am in awe of what can be learned and accomplished to help a very sick person.

Monday, May 19, 2008

First Day of Summer

It's a beautiful morning and I'm.....not going to work. I'm a schoolgirl again-- free for the summer. It's a welcome benefit of this job.

What will I do?

I'd like to plant some flowers. Start cooking again. Organize and clean out my digital photo library. Blog more often. Send long overdue graduation and baby and wedding gifts. Read more books. Take more naps. Unpack.

I wish my daddy was still here, coming over for coffee every morning. I'm drinking a leisurely cup right now, thinking of him and knowing once again what time gives and time takes away.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Time to DTR

I was in my usual spot behind the front desk at the college dormitory where I work, talking to several students. One was in a new romantic relationship. Things were going well, he said. In fact, it was probably time to talk. The girl he was hanging out with had hinted as much.

"Yeah," responded another student, "D. T. R." I looked at the three other people around me, all of whom were nodding matter-of-factly.

D. T. R. ? Uh, what's D. T. R. ?

Define the relationship, that's what!

Am I the only one who didn't know? Always eager to expand my horizons, I googled DTR as soon as I got home. After getting past Diesel Truck Resource and Data Terminal Ready (and who could care about either of those?), I actually found it.

After considering this delightful new (to me) acronym, I decided that I myself have attempted to DTR. I think it counts, even though I didn't know I was trying to DTR when I did it. And when was that?

I seem to recall it was right before my high school boyfriend dumped me. Coincidence?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Almost April

I used to think of April as magical. Hard to say why. There were many nights when, as a child and teenager, I went to sleep with the window next to my head wide open. It never occurred to me that this might not be safe, and I suppose my parents didn't think of it either. I only knew that the breeze on my face felt like nothing else did.

And it's only March now. Not even Officially Spring. Yet today was one of those sunny, gusty days that reminded me of why I love spring so much. It was pouring rain all day yesterday. I was soaked by the time I made it home. But today was spectacular, just in time for an Easter egg hunt.

Anna, the exquisite little person whose mommy invited me to the hunt, toddled along clutching a small box of candy that had fallen out of a plastic egg. It fit perfectly inside her tiny little fist. Who needs a colorful egg when you can have a box of Nerds candy?

Soon it will be forty years since I walked on this same campus, even in this same area of the campus, holding hands with a boy I'd just met. He was too short for me, or I was too tall for him, but it didn't matter. Still doesn't.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cute People Are on Facebook!

I am a modern woman.

Well. What on earth is that supposed to mean? Nothing, really. I just thought it sounded like the way a post such as this one should begin. Only maybe I should have said, I am a modern young woman.

Let me provide some history. About 8 or 10 years ago, I finally dropped out of the Lead Pencil Club and began to use email (a little) and do internet research. Then I began to use email a lot. Then I discovered eBay and enjoyed a couple of years of buying and selling and meeting some Pretty Strange People. (Some might say they couldn't have been stranger than someone who sells sock monkeys on eBay.)

At one point I finally learned to use a digital camera and taught myself some basic Photoshop-type stuff. Still like that a lot.

Almost two years ago, after reading a couple of exquisitely horrible blogs, I wrote my first post.

And now I'm on Facebook. I know, it's a) really no big deal and b) kinda funny. Me? But it was by demand. People wanted to be my friends! Cute people!

My daughter says eventually it won't be quite as interesting as it is now. Another of my kids says it's more than a little weird.

And I say: Ann's "relationship status" is married. She is "looking for" friends.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Grandparents are often called funny names. That's because they receive these names from their grandchildren. My husband's mother, who was only in her mid-forties when our first child was born, made it clear that she preferred being called "Grandmother." None of this Granny or Grammy stuff. Just plain, dignified Grandmother. Alas, it was not to be. Unable to pronounce Grandmother, our toddler named her Maw Maw. And, of course, the other five grandchildren followed suit.

I have no hang-ups about being called Granny. It's what I want. I called my own grandmother Granny, and my children called my mother Granny. So far my only grandchild has not been able to say Granny. Until recently, he's been saying GaGa. Not exactly catchy, but I figured it was only a small twist of the tongue away from Granny.

Last week my daughter called me. Barely containing her laughter, she asked me to hold on a moment. I could hear her saying to my grandchild, "Say hi to Granny."

"Gigi," he chirped into the telephone. "Gigi."

He had been saying it all afternoon, obviously referring to me.

Gigi? Gigi??

I'm trying to be open-minded. Maybe my immediate assumptions and reactions to the name were wrong, I googled Gigi. Here are some of the words and phrases associated with Gigi:

burlesque; Italian restaurant; bar; movie (1958); fitness center; acoustic rock artist; pet boutique; merry-go-round horse; designer belts for babies; bikini wax; prom dresses; French poodle. Don't exactly remind you of me, do they?

I don't know whether I'll have to get used to it or not. He was still saying Gigi today, but Granny could be just around the corner (hobbling along with her cane, of course).