Sunday, July 26, 2020

And May Makes Eight

Baby May Yasmine came home from the hospital yesterday with her parents, Lauren and Anas.   
As they were leaving the hospital, Lauren sent a text and picture of 2-day old May in her car seat to a message thread with about a dozen of David’s sisters and spouses, nieces and nephews. It read, “After much commotion getting her in the car seat, we are off!  Fashion credits to Sharon.”

When I looked at the picture, I had 4 thoughts: May is adorable; the car seat straps are so wide that they almost entirely cover her tiny body; I hope the car air-conditioning is on, because she’s really bundled up; and Lauren crocheted a beautiful blanket…why is she giving fashion credit to Sharon?

Then David texted: “The traditional continues.”

I asked what he was talking about, the “traditional.”

He said “Oh, I meant “tradition,” and he left it at that. I assumed he was being profound and reflective, referring to his daughter bringing home her baby, just as he had brought Lauren home, 33 years ago.

Then Sam, Sharon’s eldest, added to the thread, saying she didn’t know about the tradition.

“What is the tradition???” I pressed David to know.  

He said that Sharon knitted the outfit for Lauren, for when he and Lauren’s mom brought her home from the hospital. I thought how nice that Lauren had kept it all these years and is now able to pass it on to her own daughter.

That in itself would have been so special.

But then Sam wrote, “My memory is a little foggy from 31 years ago.”

I asked David why Sam was talking about 31 years ago and not 33, when Lauren was born. 
Finally, he explained: Way back when, Sharon knitted the sweater and cap – a lovely outfit, by the way – that May sported in the picture. She had made it initially for Lauren, the first to be born in the extended Minches family, for her first trip home. 

Sharon’s thinking went a step further: that the outfit would adorn all subsequent babies in their family – boy or girl – upon leaving the hospital, with the parents passing it along before the next child was born.     

Sharon, David and Joanie produced 7 cousins among them, and all of them wore her handiwork.
What Sam didn’t realize 31 years ago was that she was already part of a very meaningful tradition that her mom initiated…and that would go on indefinitely.

I found it very fitting that Sharon, the eldest of 3 siblings, took on a matriarchal role very early on – in her 20s – by making an outfit for all 3 to utilize for their own children. 
Interestingly, it is Lauren – the eldest of her cousins – whose daughter May is also leading off with the next generation of cousins.

After sitting idle for 23 years, this outfit is about to get busy.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Anita's Garden

I am drawn to yellow Black-eyed Susans and pink Echinacea, white daisies, peonies and other long-stemmed flowers that gently sway in the morning breeze; sunflowers that remind me of big, happy faces (and my mom); and deep blueish-purple petunias, which literally make me stop and stare, marveling at the inherent artistry of Mother Nature.

Belmont Inn is a Bed & Breakfast in the charming little town of Camden, Maine, that David and I have enjoyed every summer for many years. What I noticed upon arrival the very first time we stayed there was the magnificent garden that was overflowing with an endless bounty of wildflowers. Each day as we’d sit on the wraparound porch of this old Victorian house, we’d see the lovely innkeeper, Anita, joyously laboring in it and presiding over it. While I knew this was special to witness, I also felt at times that the relationship between Anita and her garden was almost too private for an outsider to observe.        

This summer, we probably won’t be going back, due to the pandemic (boooooo) and trying to stay in tip-top shape for our grandchildren (yaayyy!). Although I think this decision is for the best, David knows I’ll miss it, as will he. In an effort to brighten our spirits during this period of long, sometimes melancholy days – and have me spend more time with him outside – he suggested we create our own version of the Belmont Inn garden, just steps away from our own porch.

When he first brought it up, I wanted to remind him of who I am and who I am not. I AM an admirer of a beautiful garden, that’s for sure, but I am NOT someone who wants to do the digging to make it happen. This is in direct contrast to his interest and satisfaction in taking such wonderful care of our property. 

I like doing some planting each spring, like in pots, and I’m pleased to report that the flowers usually live through the end of the season, but that’s a far cry from planting flowers in the ground that actually bloom each year and add to the picturesque quality of the landscape. This requires a lot of work, and if you were to ask me “What would you rather do outside…garden or shovel snow?” There’s no question; I’d pick the snow option. I also love a great sushi meal but would rather enjoy it out than learn to make it in my kitchen.

Seeing that David was so enthused about his idea and had already painstakingly cleared a portion of our grounds for it, I wanted to be a good sport, not to mention that I have p l e n t y of time and energy, so why not just do it with him, even if it’s not something I’m dying to do. I’d have been a real jerk to say “not interested, buddy,” even though that was my first inclination. 

He ignored my lack of enthusiasm, I’m glad to say, and repeatedly suggested that I contact Anita, who has become a very special friend to us over the years, to pick her brain about the cultivation of our own garden. I’m sure he was hoping she’d offer some guidance that would translate into excitement for me and success for us in embarking on this new undertaking.   

I could feel Anita’s smile and passion for her Belmont Inn garden when we talked about it, which led to my feeling more invested in the idea, like I was embarking on a project that would bring the three of us gratification. By the time I was done jotting down all of her suggestions, I had some 20+ flowers on my list along with her commentary for each one, such as how big and full it would become, the colors, placement, and so on. As she talked, I scrolled through the myriad of pictures I had taken each year we visited. 

A couple of days later, David and I went to a local nursery and walked down the perennial aisle, picking up 10 flowering plants that she either recommended or to which we were attracted. When we got home, the process to plant them was similar to everything else we do together:  he moved speedily and I kept slowing things down so I could think about all the specifics that Anita told me to keep in mind, such as how big each plant would grow and where it should be placed, whereas he had either already done that in his head or it would have come naturally as we had gotten started.  

Phase One is complete.

Now living in Oregon to be close to her daughters and grandchildren, we’re hoping that one day not too far off, Anita will come visit us and see our creation.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

2 Grandmas

My daughter Allison and her husband Dave, who live in southwest Florida, just gave birth to a little girl. 

Allison’s mother-in-law, Andrea, and I decided to take a road trip to visit them since in today’s Covid-19 world, we did not feel comfortable flying. We planned for a ride each way of somewhere between 18 to 20 hours, which would include a one-night hotel stay.

While excited about the adventure – and of course seeing our kids and welcoming sweet Zoey to our families – I had a bunch of thoughts swirling around my head for weeks leading up to our travel.  

In no particular order, here’s the list:

1 – How will I manage pumping gas?  I figured we’d have to refill at least 3 or 4 times each way.  It had been 36 years since I had pumped my own gas, being a New Jersey (and very spoiled) resident.

2 – How will Andrea and I get along?  It could go either way with 2 people spending that much time together in such close quarters. 

3 – Will we feel skeeved out if we had to stop along the way, either for a meal/snacks and/or a bathroom? I certainly didn’t want my snack-a-holic habits to become a problem for my driving companion, nor did I want my frequent trips to the bathroom to be an issue either.

4 – Will we feel safe in the hotels?  If not, then what? 

5 – Am I going to wish I had colored my hair before the trip? It had been 5 months. I had begun seeing my mom when I looked in the mirror.

Here’s how it all played out: 

Pumping gas was a bit hairy at first, with the gas dripping down the side of the car initially but, by the second time, I had it nailed.

Andrea and I yapped for 10 days straight, including 30 out of 40 hours in the car. It wasn’t an effort…we are w o m e n…need I say more? We threw in some podcasts for variety, listened to music from our earlier years, compared the recordings of songs like “Both Sides Now” (Joni Mitchell and Seal) and the Dreamgirls song “And I Am Telling You” (Jennifer Holiday and Jennifer Hudson), and sang to Motown and her favorite: country music, of which I might be a new fan.

This one is especially impressive…we did not stop one time to go to a bathroom! It may not have been the healthiest decision, but limiting our fluid intake that day (I had none; Andrea had a cup of coffee) certainly made for an easier ride. We had also brought a ton of food, including delicious egg salad prepared by Andrea that we stuffed inside of raisin bread, fruits and vegetables, lots of other snacks…and chocolates too, of course.

Regarding my gray locks…Baby Zoey’s eyes were drawn to lights, so I wandered in to the kids’ bathroom a few times so she could see them and, while there, I was compelled to examine the blueish hue of my gray/white hair as I looked in the mirror. I was sure that I looked more like a “MomMom” than Andrea looked like a “Grandma Andi,” but I actually found the gray kind of cool, given the times. 

Our hotels were fine; we wore masks in common areas and wiped down door knobs, faucets, surfaces, remotes, lamps and so on, and we also brought our own pillowcases. ……………………………………………………………….…….....................................................

As you would expect, it was love at first sight when I met Zoey, and I got the feeling she felt that way about me, too 😊.

All week long, I reveled in seeing my daughter as a mommy, and Dave as a daddy.  It is truly remarkable to witness our kids transform into parents.

I am grateful that they allowed us to be part of such a special time in their lives and that we got to give Zoey some squeezes and kisses, albeit through a mask.

Thank goodness for FaceTime and for all the videos and pictures so easily accessible on my phone that will remind me of her beautiful smile, her sweet sounds and the sheer magic of this time.  All these things will help to ease the separation blues I already have for her and that keep me well connected with my other loves, Eliana and Ethan.     
I am blessed with three grandchildren for now – with a fourth one on the way – how amazing is that?!?!? 

My heart is growing and growing and growing and growing...