Bittersweet memories have always been fascinating to me. It’s the oddity of how something can be so sad and yet so fond at the same time. This is one such memory from my youth.
I was raised by my grandparents as a small child. Even after I grew to be a teen, I was as close to them as if they were my parents. I was 17 and my grandfather was 81 when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The cancer was rampant in his body before we even knew it existed. It was as if he was fine one day then given 6 months to live the next.
My grandparents were very simple, uneducated people. I loved them dearly because they loved me and it didn’t matter to me that they didn’t know how to read or write. What my grandfather didn’t have in smarts, he made up for in heart. He never learned to read, write or count, but he could fix anything from machinery to cars, woodwork, plumbing, you name it. He would do anything or give up anything for someone who needed it.
About three months into my grandfather’s six month spiral we were all exhausted and weary from caring for him and his frail failing body. It was July and on the day of my 17th birthday I went there to visit them. Some things about their life would seem strange to everyone but me, but when you grow up a certain way it’s not strange to you at all. My grandparents slept in separate beds. They each had a small twin bed in their bedroom with a nightstand in between. It had always been that way as long as I had lived. I walked in the bedroom and my grandfather sat on the edge of his bed, barely able to hold himself up. My grandmother was sitting next to him and rubbing lotion on him to keep his circulation up. I sat on my grandmother’s bed across from them and we faced each other. They asked me about my day. I told them I had not been doing much but went to lunch with some friends for my birthday.
In the hustle of all the caring for my grandfather, everyone had forgotten my birthday, but I really didn’t care. Even as a selfish teenager, I was OK with it and understood that I wouldn’t have my grandfather much longer. My grandpa got very sad when he realized they had forgotten and he started to sing the happy birthday song to me. But as I mentioned, my grandpa wasn’t very educated and even some simple things like the birthday song he didn’t know, so he got the words all wrong. Who gets the words wrong to “Happy Birthday”? It was so much like him and it was so endearing to me for him to try his best that I started to cry quietly. And even more so, when they saw me cry, they knew it wasn’t because he was singing it wrong and it wasn’t because I had been forgotten, it was because we all knew we would lose him soon. I wanted that moment to last forever. It was the best birthday gift I’ve ever received in my life and I wouldn’t trade that silly mis-worded song for any present in the world. I would give every present I’ve ever gotten back if I could just hear him sing it one more time.
Every birthday I have I think back on that memory with fondness and sadness. I miss him dearly.
My son’s school has great ideas for “homework” for the toddler age group. One night as a homework assignment, they sent home a classroom bear. The objective was to document the activities you did for a weekend with the bear and present them to school. This is a great idea for classes but also Home-school Co-ops and Mommy’s Playgroups.
Classroom Project: Traveling Bear
Here are some highlights from our visit with Brown Bear.
We ate out with Brown Bear.
We made cookies with Brown Bear.
Yes, my four-year-old can crack eggs like a pro!
We built a project with Brown Bear.
We made pickles with Brown Bear.
Played in the leaves with Brown Bear.
We went to dance class with Brown Bear.
We read books with Brown Bear.
And a bunch of other run stuff that Mommy forgot to photograph, like swim class and other fun stuff. This activity does take a bit of work on the parent’s part to photograph and print them out, but even if that is not an option, just writing down the activities and discussing them in class is a worthwhile activity to teach the kids about how other families do things.
Welcome New Year!
My biggest hope: this year will be better than the last one
My plan: loose weight
What I am most thankful for: my family and friends
What I am least thankful for: see details below
My regrets for last year: if I hurt anyone unintentionally, if I wasn’t the best mom I could be, not knowing how to be a better wife
As mentioned above, I am increasingly NOT THANKFUL for….white, bigoted, religious judgmental assholes. I am a Texan, born and raised and I am proud of my state like most of us are, however I have become increasingly aware of how arrogant and dimwitted some of us can be. I never have, nor ever will, understand the “I’m better than you” mentality. Not all whites are bigots, nor are all religious people judgmental but there is a huge contingent of people who feel they are entitled and their views are above reproach and debate. They spew hatred everywhere they go. I’m totally over it. We are all made from the same basic materials. In the end, no matter whether you believe in a heaven or hell or anything in between, the only thing people on this earth will remember is how you treated others. And whether you treated others badly in the name of religion, money, status or any other reason, you will die an asshole.
I apologize for the rant and I do normally try to keep things upbeat and positive on my page. I was randomly attacked by someone who I guess doesn’t think I “fit the bill” for the traditional Southern values mother. Either that, or he didn’t like the fact I recycle. Not sure exactly what clicked in his head to attack me. But it wraps up a year where I have been bombarded with people who are either against gays, make offhanded jokes about people of color, make judgements against women who are really trying to be good moms but don’t fit the 50’s housewife scenario, or come in contact with people who don’t even have kids but think they know everything there is to know about raising them. But I’m starting this new year with a positive attitude and if the “haters gotta hate” then I’ll be showing them the door.