Monthly Archives: October 2015

Granny Dot


“Open the door.  He’s telling me what to do.”

Her eyes were on the ceiling, over my head.  She studied whatever it was she saw very seriously. I asked her who it was and she shrugged.  I asked her if it was Jesus and she mumbled, “I don’t know”.  But still she stared.  I saw a mixture of fear and maybe agitation in her eyes.  Her brows were knitted together. She studied him hard.  I finally said, “Listen to him.  He loves you.”


I’ve witnessed the beginning of life first hand, and now the end of life.  The ultimate joy, the heart crushing loss.  Honestly, neither were pretty.  Both were hard and messy and full of anxiety.  When will it happen?  Will I be ready?  What will I do once it’s over? The only catch is with a birth you’re left with a little human to love, raise and adore.  With death, you’re left with a hole, an empty place where a human once presided in your life. With both, you’re required to have incredible faith.  Faith that you can be all that person needs you to be in that moment.  And now, now that the moment has come and gone, still wondering if it was enough, if you’ll be enough.

My mother-in-law passed this weekend.  We knew the end was coming.  We saw the affects of cancer claim her body.  And even though it was excruciating to watch her struggle, there is a bond that feels stronger than it ever has before.  Even with her gone, I feel closer to her than ever.  Dot fought, she persisted, she demanded that her body breathe.  We all told her that it was okay…that she would be safe and never alone.  I felt the truth of those words in her room in the middle of the night, and I still feel it now.

Dot told us all that she wanted her passing to be happy…no sappy funeral, nothing but celebration.  She liked to laugh way too much to ever settle for sappiness.  But still… all I can do is think, but what about Thanksgiving and your grandkids and your black pie and sugar cookies?  You haven’t taught me how to make dressing yet.  You were going to show me your favorite dress and your favorite book.  We were supposed to have one more day to do all those things.

The sad thing is, we’d just had a lifetime.

A lifetime of moments and conversations and meals and family.  It turns out that even a lifetime is not enough.

I’ve read that death is like walking from one room to the next.  You simply close one door and open another.  I pray for that transition, for that simple step of walking out, walking in.   I pray that for Dot she simply bounded into the next room, her energy back, her laugh loud and strong, her spirit filling up that wonderfully bright new room in a flash.


We Called Her LP


A half-empty Sun-drop bottle, an open pack of crackers, jelly packets scattered across a desk.  A snatch of time, a life finished too soon.  I made myself stare at her desk, take it all in.  Her myriad of bobble-head dolls, her schedule for the day.  It was all where she’d left it, expecting to return.

Our school lost a dear friend this past week. She spent the last twenty-five plus years of her life taking care of teachers, taking care of children.  Petite and thin, strong and quick-witted, she was sharp.  She was unique.  If you were willing to open yourself to her, if only you tried the slightest bit, you found a friend.  Not always a woman of many words, she was so much more than what the eye perceived.  She had a smile that was bright when she chose to smile, and when she laughed, the air around her sparked.  Sharing a laugh with her meant sharing joy.  I’ll never forget our last laugh together, me illiterate about technology, asking her how she’d fixed my VCR and remote, her shrugging and saying ‘I don’t know’. We looked at each other and laughed.  And it was real – a moment between souls that just got each other.

And that soul left behind so much more than a half-empty Sun-Drop bottle.  She left her ability to connect with children. It could’ve been a sweet, spirited little boy or a special needs child.  Her radar found them and they became hers, not just for the day or for the week, but for life.

She left her dry sense of humor, her devotion to work when she could’ve retired years ago. She left her no-nonsense approach to life, her gift of technology, the taping of school programs for parents, and her never-ending supply of change. She left mementos like crochet blankets and wooden bowls, tweeting birds and knitted booties. She left a lifetime worth of memories.  She left all of us at Pulaski Elementary feeling like we’ve lost a limb or gained a hole in our hearts.

She was our friend, and we called her LP.

Park Hopping


Theme park 101:

1.  You will at times feel like a cow.  You will be herded in mass groups, shuffling along until you find a green pasture.  If you suddenly moo, no one will notice.

2.  All children act like children no matter where they are.  They will invade your personal space, confuse you with their mother, and whine uncontrollably for the slightest infraction.  And those were the ‘other’ children – my crew behaved perfectly.

3.  When Optimus Prime looks at you and says, “I will always consider you my friend,” you will get chill bumps.

4.  When a place claims to be the happiest place on the planet, they only mean after you’ve acclimated to 50,000 other people and the never ending touching by strangers. Once you’ve settled in, relaxed a little, taken a nerve pill, and accepted the fact that you can’t have the place all to yourself, then you can be happy.

5. If you’re on a water ride, keep your mouth closed at all times.  The water has a poignant body odor smell and will transfer to your skin in a single splash.

5.  Nothing…I mean nothing is better than watching a parade of characters surrounded by kids, big kids and little kids.  The sighs, the blood curdling screams, the precious sounds of delight when a favorite character is spotted. Absolutely priceless.