Love And Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Image by Premshree Pillai via Flickr

When I was a little girl, I remember throwing pennies up in the air so that other little kids would find them and be happy. This was not something my mom or dad taught me; it was something I just did. My parents didn’t mind; I think they were mildly amused. Eventually, I worked up to throwing nickels and dimes and imagining excited, delighted children got even sweeter. The first time I threw a quarter my mother put her hands on her hips, stamped her foot and said “are you crazy, that’s a lot of money!”  and it really was way back then.  I went back to pennies, nickels, dimes and, of course, an occasional quarter, when she wasn’t looking. It was something that always felt right to me and defined me as a person.  I never lost that quality, I just didn’t have a name for it.

Years later, when “Random Acts of Kindness” became popular because of Oprah I had a name for what I have always done. I now paid tolls on bridges for the cars behind me, I paid for a cup of Starbucks coffee for the next person in line.  I sent a little boy a gift certificate to Toys R Us after his mom died signed by “a friendly neighbor.” When I heard that one of my on-line friends truly loved a certain book, I arranged for a brand new, shiny hardcover book to be autographed with her name, by the author, who happened to be a family friend. Imagining that book on its trip from the post office to her house kept me excited the entire week.

When my son was about four years old we visited my parents who lived out-of-town. I remember one bright and early morning my son, whom we dubbed ” the farmer,” woke up at 5:30am. Everyone else was fast asleep so I decided to take him out for breakfast, just me and my buddy on a date at a local diner. We ate blueberry pancakes with sweet, brown maple syrup and drank bright orange juice from small, plastic glasses.

In the booth in front of us there was an elderly woman looking cranky and mad and according to my son, “really mean.” We could hear her grousing and complaining often, first to herself and later on to the waitress. I told him that maybe the lady behind us, the “really mean lady” was not mean at all. Perhaps she was ill or lonely or very sad to be sitting by herself on an early Sunday morning. I asked my son if he wanted to play a new game; what four-year old would say no to a game?!   I told him about a happy, surprise game that involved doing nice things for others that we could do together.

After we finished our meal we went over to the waitress and we paid our bill. Winking at my son and looking at his big, warm brown, excited eyes, I asked the waitress to please add the lonely lady’s meal and a tip for herself to our bill.  I remember the waitress looked astonished and pointed to the woman and said “for HER?” We nodded yes, my little boy’s face beaming. My son and I giggled as we left the diner quickly. We couldn’t let the “lady” know who paid for her surprise meal.  Our stomachs were happy, our hearts full and our faces were warm and radiant in the early morning sun. We raced down the steps, sharing a delicious secret, our hands still sticky and sweet, clasped firmly and lovingly, together.

What I Miss About Childhood

Up, Up And Away

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 747-100

I miss the innocence of being a child. When you are little you think that your parents can handle all of life’s problems. When I was a child we boarded airplanes continuously since our father worked for TWA. My sister and I had to dress up in matching blue skirts and sweaters, I remember the buttons felt and looked like small rocks. The only feeling we had, since we were flying non-rev, (subject to space) was perhaps annoyance that we may not get on the flight we wanted. We would have to wait for another flight at the airport which could take hours. At that time it seemed like a tragedy. Now, we fear terrorist attacks, bombs exploding, emergency landings and even birds in the sky. We take off our shoes, we go through security; everyone looks suspicious. Back then we dressed like we were going to the opera, now people wear jeans and sweat pants on the airplane, myself included. I would give anything to have that innocence back; I wouldn’t even complain about wearing a sweater set that identically matched my older sister’s.There is no way of making up for that loss of innocence; after 9/11 the world as we had known it, changed forever.

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What My Heart Feels

20080329 - Oranjello, the new kitten - 152-528...

Image by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Flickr

Nostalgia slips in on tiny kitten paws at the strangest places and the most unexpected of times. Today I went out with my 16-year-old daughter to her annual physical. She got her learner’s permit less than a month ago and drove slowly but easily and with confidence, into the crowded parking lot. As soon as she put the car in Park, the lump in my throat thickened and I was unable to speak.

I started babbling and told her how proud I was of her. That from a shy, timid little girl she had grown into the most amazing, strong, confident and beautiful young woman. She looked at me, as only a teenage daughter can, with a bit of confusion, disgust and annoyance. Frankly, I can’t blame her.

For me,  this week has consisted of writing an essay about my son who is now a senior in high school and writing checks for my daughter’s PSAT test and driver’s education course. Years have slipped into minutes as I felt the twisting and turning, and actual jabbing pain in my heart. We were still right there in the parking lot when my daughter, without a sound, casually handed me back my keys.

The pediatrician’s office was filled with little children, a girl named Maddie, age 3, reminded me of my daughter when she was that age. Inquisitve, bright, lovely with straight blond hair, she danced around the waiting room, talking to the bright yellow and blue fish that swam in the fish tank. We were called in moments later and after the initial hello to the doctor, the pediatrician who has known my daughter since she was about 5, I left the room. The doctor asked my daughter if she wanted me to come back when she had the shots, a yearly tradition, she shrugged her shoulders up and down and said “I don’t care.”  It took me a minute to get up and leave; it was the first time my daughter hadn’t wanted to dig her fingernails, into my skin when she got the shot. I now missed the indentations her polished, blue fingernails would make in my hand.

It is hard to believe that next year my son will be in college and my daughter will be a senior. I feel like singing “Sunrise, Sunset” every day. Life passes by us, without reminders or stop signs. We have taught our children to be independent and strong, birds flying on their own. Times moves on and so must we. I’ve looked at old childhood photographs of when they were young but quickly replaced them with more up to date photos. I need to remind myself that they are young adults now. Once they leave for college it’s all very different. They don’t need us in the same way, we will see them less often but we will be here, quietly, patiently, with love, warmth and excitement whenever they want to come home. We will be waiting here, in their childhood home, with open arms.

In Defense Of My Vice: BOOKS

Books behind the bed

My only vice is books. (I really want to say are because it sounds better). Books not borrowed from the library but books I need to buy and own. I am in love with Borders and when I enter the store I feel relieved. Physically, I let out a full breath and begin to relax. For the last year I have been going to the library (at times) and borrowing books due to financial reasons. But, if find a favorite, I will, sometime in the future, buy the paperback copy to own. I reread books, I lend my books to others. My vice probably started every Saturday afternoon of my childhood where my whole family would walk miles to get to the not-so-local library. It was a tradition. Later in life, when I was working, I would spend hours at bookstores, holding the books, taken in by the covers or the titles or both. Why would I quit? I wouldn’t quit; I will still keep on reading and imagining other people’s lives and then coming home, happily to my own.

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