Sunday, September 29, 2019

Now Here's a Post I Thought I'd Never Write

When I was in the thick of raising five boys, I used to CRAVE time alone. Fantasized about it, even. Especially when I was in the bathroom and those kids would slide their little fingers under the door and say, "MOM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?"

Fast forward a million years. Here I am now, an empty-nester who spends at least part of every day alone. There are lots of things I enjoy about this stage of life, for sure. But the big surprise to me has been how much I sometimes miss my boys, their noise and all the chaos. Believe me. I did not see THAT coming.

Which is why, more than ever, I'm grateful for the communities of which I'm a part. Professional. Personal. Whatever. I'm glad I have my people.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A view from the playhouse

I love fall for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is the light. Right now I'm sitting in the playhouse Ken Cannon is building for our granddaughters, looking through a window at the vines glowing green and amber.

I'm also thinking of my grandmother, an October baby, who loved this season best of all. When I was a little girl, she was my everything. No matter what I had to say, she listened. As I grew older, though, I found her interest in me intrusive. And, it must be said, I think she resented at a certain level that I was growing up . . . and because I was growing up I didn't turn to her the way I had when I was younger.

Our relationship became complicated.

I've told this story before, but the last time I ever saw my grandmother, I was angry with her. She'd come up to the house to help us load the truck when we moved to New York. (Yes. She was in her 80's and still capable of loading up trucks.) Grandma was full of advice about our impending move, which I didn't want, and by the time we rolled away in our U-Haul, I was barely speaking to her.

Fast forward to the autumn of 1993. My friend Becky called me in New York to say that she'd seen my grandmother and that she looked so thin. I called my mother who said that Grandma had lost her appetite, that she couldn't swallow, that she had esophageal cancer and everyone was deciding what to do next.

I talked to her a number of times, of course, and she still peppered me with advice.

"Do you have enough toilet paper in the house there? You should buy it in bulk."

Thanksgiving day I called her and after our conversation I said, "I love you, Grandma."

She paused, then simply said, "I know." She died the following day.

Those words came back to me this afternoon like a gift. That my grandmother loved me was never in doubt. And it comforts me to think she knew in the end that yes-- I loved her, too.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Do I or Don't I

If I had to choose a favorite book(s), I'd go with TLOR--which surprises me whenever I say that because my taste in fiction usually runs to the realistic.

But. I discovered TLOR at exactly the right time in my life--as a 16 year-old girl in California whose father had just dropped her off at a dismal little mall in Pomona California while he went recruiting. The only thing still opened in the mall was a drugstore, where I found THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING on a spinner. I'm not sure why I even bought the novel--maybe there weren't any bodice-rippers available--so I purchased my copy, went outside, sat on a bench, and read about little men with hairy toes until Dad returned to pick us up.

By then I was hooked.

I don't typically re-read books, but I have read TLOR novels at different times in my life and they've always held up for me--spoken to me about whatever journey I was taking at the time. And now that September 22nd is approaching (NERD ALERT! SEPTEMBER 22ND IS BILBO'S BIRTHDAY!) I've been toying with the idea of reading the books again.


What if this is the time the books lose their magic? And also, I'm old. If I re-read TLOR will I miss out on a few other books I should read BEFORE I DIE?

This is a quandary.  To re-read or not re-read. That is the question.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What I'm Missing Today

My old column.

I just returned from a luncheon where I spoke about how I became a columnist (the answer is "by accident") and I was semi-shocked to realize that I did a version of the same column from 1985 (when I started writing for Parent Express) until 2017 (I think) when The Tribune asked me to focus on the advice column only.

That's a lot of columns. And I've realized that not writing that column has felt like an enormous loss to me. More than I've been willing to acknowledge.

Because the column was "personal," I wrote about my boys, my parents (especially TRQ), Ken Cannon, the dogs, friends, Salt Lake City, popular culture, whatever. I was fortunate because the column allowed me to bear witness about my own life. And knowing I had a deadline made me pay attention to that all that living . . .  in a way I haven't since then.

So. I know that blogging isn't really a thing anymore. But I think I'll start up here again, along with posting the poems I have enjoyed writing.

Yes. I think this is a plan.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Her Things

An unread book--
An unlit candle--
An unopened tube of hand cream--
An unworn necklace--
They were all gifts I'd given through the year
To my mother-in-law
Who printed my name neatly
On a piece of masking tape,
Then stuck that tape on the gifts
So I would get them back
In the event of her death.

Her daughter returned them all
To me last week.
I knew that not using my gifts
Was her way of honoring them.
A child of the Great Depression,
She was frugal, careful with resources,
Turning out lights when she left a room,
Running only as much water as needed,
Eating leftovers until they were gone.

She saved those things for me
Because they were precious.
Only I wish she had worn the necklace
Until the silver turned dark against her skin,
Opened the tube of hand cream and
Rubbed it all on her sun brown arms,
Lit the candle and watched its
Flames flicker until the wax
Melted into memory,
Opened the book and devoured
Each word as through it were chocolate.