Friday, May 7, 2021

Grandma June

My precious Grandma June died on Wednesday. She has struggled with some health problems that have made her slowly decline mentally, so in a way I have been losing her bit by bit over the last few years. Even still, my heart has broken into a million little pieces and I am predictably, yet unexpectedly, a mess. 

I am supposed to be estimating the absorption rate constant of a medication right now, but I suddenly feel the need to stop work and paint this picture before I allow time to further weaken my memory of this woman who was so, so dear to me.

Grandma June took the saying, "stop and smell the roses" directly to heart. Much to the dismay of my grandfather and anyone else without the patience of Job, Grandma literally stopped mid-stride to appreciate a beautiful flower, a tree, a house, or a trinket. She was a little slower than most, but lived with a bull dog determination to keep our bellies full, our clothes ironed, and the floors clean. Even though most could lap her in a race, her elbow grease could not be matched.

Grandma could cook with the best of them. Her table was covered from end to end with delicious food, making the task of finding a spot for your plate challenging. She used more butter than Paula Deen. (She always denied it, but I once saw her put an entire stick of butter in a pot of spaghetti sauce.) Although her kitchen was full of cook books and recipe cards, she mostly cooked from memory without measuring or recipes, which I discovered when I tried to mimic her creations and had to follow her around in the kitchen, noting her steps on the back of her daily cross word puzzles.

Grandma loved shopping for and decorating her beautiful home with antiques and could always miraculously find a spot for one more thing, hoping Grandpa wouldn't notice. She also loved shopping for clothes and would spoil us beyond belief with trips to the mall. She was generous to a fault, always noticing others' needs and making sure those around her had more than enough.

Grandma had more of a cackle than a laugh, but it was one of my favorite sounds. She also didn't really know how to raise her voice without it screeching, which made her rare moments of anger hard to take seriously. She was smart and quick witted and nothing made her laugh more than April Fools Day. She could be just as ornery as she was sweet and her pranks are that of legend. She once convinced a city police officer to pretend to arrest my mom for an unpaid parking ticket in front of her entire sorority. 

Grandma believed in rewarding hard work and celebrating often. She sent us a note for every holiday, a treat for our every grade card, and more often than not, cleaning days ended with ice cream. Whether it was taking piano lessons or memorizing bible verses, she constantly encouraged us to do our best. She hosted every celebration, stretching holidays out for days on end. Now that I have an idea of the work associated with having 4 extra adults and 6 extra kids at your house, I have no idea how she did it while continuing to work a full time job and keeping a smile on her face. 

I enjoyed the first half of my life high in the ranks of Grandma's priorities, but went down a few notches when the great grandchildren arrived. Watching her love for them pour out of her was one of the greatest joys of my life and made me want to be a grandma more than anything else.

Grandma wore her pajamas and robe way past what would be considered a socially acceptable time. I have vivid memories of her hosing off the back patio in her silk pajamas, robe, and holy stockings. She had the strongest, most beautiful nails. She loved dipping cookies in coffee for breakfast, Fritos for lunch, and a root beer float for dessert. She appreciated when things were monographed. She always made time for a phone call. She was the luckiest card player I have ever met, often winning despite not fully understanding the rules of the game.

Grandma loved hard, but not in a sappy or flowery way. She rarely said, "I love you." She didn't have to. I knew it in the way she made me feel tethered whenever I was with her. A girl could build a sense of self and purpose in the shelter of that love, and I certainly did. I drove to her house when I needed comfort. I called her when I needed advice. Simply put, she shaped me.

What a lucky girl I was to have a grandma like her.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

May Day

May first was one of those perfect spring days that seemed to just keep going, allowing time for everything that seemed necessary. 

This picture is from our front porch, where the girls and I ate a dinner of grilled frozen pre-made burgers and french fries with cut up veggies. Little did we know that Lola was inside sneaking the leftover burgers off of the counter! (This is really out of character for Lola. So I asked Cora, whose responsibility it is to feed Lola, if she had fed her...and she couldn't remember...)

The day was full of so many other good things! I woke up early, not able to get the work week off my mind, so gave in to working on a model for a few hours. I thankfully made some good progress, so when 7 am rolled around I could take Lola on a walk. I called a few patients for my part-time gig, then took Ina to acro, where her adorable class made a pyramid. 

Dan was away the rest of the day helping my dad at the farm, so the girls and I hung around the house. I cleaned out my car, moved the laundry basket down to zero, meal planned and grocery shopped for the week, taught Brooke how to make sourdough, and spent large chunks of time sitting outside watching the girls play with the neighborhood. Spring is my absolute favorite. 

I needed this day of just hanging around the house, after a few non-stop weeks. I do work from home, which I naively thought would mean that I would have extra time, energy, and margin to address all of these things. However, I have found that a staircase is the only barrier between me determining the best dose to start a drug in humans and me explaining why even though Cora gets to celebrate her summer birthday at school next week, her actual birthday isn't until July. The second after I close down my mathematical model I strategize how to get the girls changed into their leotards, snacks packed, and out the door in 13 minutes. To be clear, I have excellent, reliable childcare during working hours, but the lack of a commute means a lack of transition and time to change hats. I am so thankful for my current circumstances and that I get to work this job where I am learning from home AND be a mom to three amazing girls, but sometimes, my brain just hurts. 

Without a doubt, working from home removes the morning commute, which allow for more things in the mornings, such as reading time and exercise. 

Cora will occasionally join me for a LexiJ workout (Mother's Day sale!), with her main motivation being that she gets to join me in my after workout pic that we post daily in our Facebook group. Morning hair and lack of a shirt don't bring her down. 

Things we are looking forward to this month: 

  • A dance competition next weekend
  • Opening the pool (after years of sitting on the deck in a camping chair, I finally loosened my purse strings enough to purchase actual furniture for the deck!)
  • Celebrating Mother's Day
  • Camping!
  • Cora's last day of pre-school and first day of summer school kindergarten. Bless her sweet heart, she is beyond nervous, so over the next month I will put in some extra confidence building time. 
Dinners planned for this week:

I hope you have a lovely Sunday!

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