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Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren’

There are pluses and minuses to living alone. At times it can be a solitary existence, but if you spin that correctly it can also mean time spent doing things you enjoy, when you want to enjoy them. Simple pleasures such as picking up a good book at three in the afternoon in your most lived in sweats, and wiling away a couple of hours, or having a bowl of Cheerios and bananas for dinner. It also gives you the latitude to decorate your nest as you please without having to ask “do you like this chair” or “what do you think of this color for the living room wall”? Rick and I shared a lot of things, our taste in decorating wasn’t one of them. Where Rick leaned toward sleek clean lines and modern decor, I bent much more in the direction of cozy country chic designs, making picking out artwork, furniture, and even dishes a matter of initiating compromise on both sides. In our first house, the decor was much more Rick’s style than mine. As it was his house, that should not be surprising. However, when we moved in our first house together his style sort of blended with mine creating an interesting, but not unappealing (at least to us) eclectic mix.

In a recent blog, I mentioned my current pining for ocean breezes and salty air. I also mentioned I had finally purchased a new bed. Both came together as I began to rethink the room once the new furniture was in place. As the ideas flowed and the design ideas progressed, I brought the sea to the room and love, love, love the end result. Was I left to my own devices and didn’t have a life to live, I would climb up on that oh so comfy mattress, sink into my bank of pillows, and simply “be” for the next five years. Unfortunately, I would be doing my “be-ing” on the street before long so feel I need to do more with my time than wallow about swathed in cotton all day.

A friend of mine called this morning. She was telling me her granddaughter, a recent high school graduate, is headed to UC Santa Barbara this fall along with her childhood best buddy. The girls drove up from the LA area last weekend with their parents to sign a lease on an off campus apartment where they will make their home during their first year at school. How exciting. I have to admit as she was filling me in on the details of the girls college plans, I felt a pang or two of envy. The whole college experience is something I missed out on. Not because it wasn’t available to me, but rather because I chose another option. Though I believe you should be grateful for what you have, and not spend time lamenting what you do not, I have always wondered what going off to college might have looked like. I managed to jam nearly a full year of college credits in between raising two toddlers and a full time job, but that is not the same as heading off to school with no outside encumbrances. For me there were no late night parties, sorority sisters, or football games. I was all about diapers, bills and a husband.

Part of having children early in life is it will likely leave you an empty nester at a relatively young age. Now, this may be far less true nowadays, particularly here in California. The cost of housing has become so prohibitive and housing availability so tight, a lot of adult children are still living under their parent’s roof just to make ends meet. Both my children were out on their own by the time I celebrated my fortieth birthday, with my first grandchild arriving on the scene the year I turned forty-two. That was a red letter year for me. I got married that year, yes again, and was living in West Virginia when my sweet little granddaughter was born. At around the time she turned six weeks old, I could no longer wait for our first introduction. I purchased a ticket, and hopped on a plane at Yeager Airport in Charleston and flew non-stop to San Jose. For me this was a big event in several ways. Since moving from Alabama to West Virginia I had inexplicably been suffering from anxiety attacks. I had never dealt with them before, and once they abated, thankfully, never have since. At the time, however, they were a driving power in my life. When I would shop at a large box store such as Sam’s Club, for example, being inside that cavernous warehouse brought about an immediate claustrophobic reaction in me. As I went further into the belly of the beast, my heart would begin to pound, my ears take to ringing, and my forehead would develop lines of sweat. Suddenly, I would get the overwhelming urge to run out of the building, and would have to find an exit in order to gather my breath. These annoying responses went on for about two years before I finally got a grip on them and was able to pack them away in my memory chest. Once, when visiting my kids in California I joined them on a trip to Disneyland. Disneyland, as you can imagine, is not the ideal place to find yourself when dealing with claustrophobia. Being inside in the dark on rides is sort of their claim to fame. For those of you who have been there and gone on Space Mountain you will understand exactly what I am saying here. Somehow I muddled through. At the time they were featuring the 3-D movie Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson, in their Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland. The theater itself was massive on the inside. We were handed 3-D glasses on entering the building, and were seated in the middle of the center row with people stretched out on either side. When the doors shut and the dark was absolute. Mommy. The movie started, and I could feel my heart rate moving up the scale with the music. Using all the tools my doctor had given me, I worked on taking my mind off what my body was doing and concentrating on what was going on on the screen. The 3-D glasses allow the viewer to capture all the amazing effects giving the impression images are right in front of your face. For me, this was the last straw. Dark closed in, and glasses off, gasping like a wide mouth bass in the bottom of the boat, I stood up and told my son-in-law I had to leave. “Leave, now?”, he said, but I was already saying “excuse, me. pardon, me”, all the way across the aisle. An employee grabbed me y the arm asking what in a whisper exactly what I thought I was doing. Unable to explain myself, but after seeing my face, she just guided me to an exit. A bit embarrassing to say the least. Outside people were staring at me as red faced I sucked at the air hoping to grab a little oxygen. For any of you who have ever had an anxiety attack, you will understand the feelings I am describing. It is a fight or flight reaction your body goes into when faced with danger. Though Captain EO posed no danger at all to my psyche, the closing doors triggered my body into action. After a while, I learned to manage the anxiety. First, you have to acknowledge to yourself that you are having a panic attack, then remind yourself there is actually no imminent danger. Next, you have to breathe in and out slowly to calm yourself down. It really is amazing the power of the mind. Probably says a lot as to why it is said a positive attitude can effect a cancer outcome, or how negative thoughts can create illness.

At any rate, after that long detour into my psyche, when my granddaughter was born this is what I was managing. Getting on a plane, basically a long tube where you are closed in and hermetically sealed, was a problem for me. When the doors were closed and the cheerful flight attendant was robotically reciting the safety rules, the pounding in my chest once again resumed, sounding like a kettle drum inside my ears. Oh-oh. All I could think about is imagining myself standing at the door to the cockpit, beating loudly, and screaming, “OUT, I NEED TO GET OUT”! Thankfully, they serve liquor on planes so I managed to survive the flight without total public humiliation, well at least with the panic attacks. By the time I arrived in San Jose my tongue and lips had agreed they could no longer form words and I could no longer feel my feet. When I got up to get my carry on bag out of the overhead bin, I had to be accosted by the flight attendant two seats down the aisle to be informed the bag I had retrieved belonged to the lady in the seat across from me and mine was still up in the compartment Whoops. Could have been worse, I could have borrowed her husband or somebody’s child. Probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Ach.

It was grand to be there once I sobered up. Seeing your grandchildren for the first time is nearly the event greeting your own is, though with less participation and less responsibility on your part. I have to say being part of the audience rather than one of the key players, can prove far less stressful. On my arrival at my daughter’s house, a sweet little pink bundle was placed in my arms. A tiny girl with a serious head of dark hair stared up at me as if to say, “Hi, Nana” and I was hooked. Always I have loved children. Their innate ability to accept the most ludicrous of scenarios as full of possibilities and adventures, their unchecked honestly (no matter how painful), and their wide eyed fascination with anything and everything populating their world. Like my cat, who always seems to find her way into my blogs, you can give a child a cardboard box and they will see a fort, a suit of armor, or perhaps even a sled gliding down an icy hill. As we get older and decorum and proper adult behavior become expected of us, we lose that childish innocence and overt joy. Too bad we couldn’t pack it away like a cloud of fireflies in a Mason jar to be pulled out of reserve for darker days.

We do survive things, we humans. Crises come and crises go. People float into our lives, some sticking like jelly to the wall, and others slipping away after a while and disappearing from sight. There are so many mysteries yet to unfold. I wonder at times what life will look like forty years in the future, or even a century away. I will not be here to write about it, but would love to be a fly on the wall to see what state the world is in as time marches along. I hope we open our eyes to climate change and start seriously taking responsibility for our part in keeping this world safe for our children, and grandchildren and theirs. Each of us has a hand in how we impact our environment and hopefully we can reverse some of the damage already done or at the very least prevent further damage in the future.

Have a safe and productive day. TGIF!!

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