Category Archives: Kids

Grief Purse

This spring and fall mark the 5th anniversary of the deaths of my parents.  Sometime between their deaths, I was in Sioux Falls and I bought a rather fancy Coach purse. It was a total splurge.

I am not the sort of person who has lots of shoes and purses. It don’t care if my purse matches anything else I am wearing.  I just use the same purse until it wears out, and then I get another one. I go more for utility than style.

I put the new purse in the closet back in 2014, in the fancy cotton storage bag that it came in, and didn’t think about it again until this spring when I needed a bigger purse to take on a trip in lieu of a brief case.  My current purse, a burgundy one, was a little too small, and I thought about the other purse in the closet. I have used it ever since, retiring the burgundy one in the closet.  My son saw the new purse when we visited him over Memorial Day. He said “Oh, that is your grief purse. You bought it when Grandma died. I wondered when you would use it.”

Well, I never thought about it like that, but I think he may have something there. I have been thinking a bit more about my parents than usual, and I suppose my not using this purse for 5 years  has some deeper meaning.  I am glad my son is so observant.

What do you have that is associated with the memory of another person or persons?

What’s New in the Neighborhood?

We have lived in the same house for 30 years. When we moved in, there were only a few young families, and the elderly couple across the street was so excited to have “nice, young family” move in. The elderly couple have both died, and until a year or so age, the neighborhood was mainly full of middle aged couples whose children had grown and moved away.

Many houses have changed hands lately, and this week I counted seven new families on our block, each having or about to have a new baby. There are many more older children as well. Now we are the older couple welcoming “nice, young families” to the neighborhood.  It is good to see and hear children again. We have to be hypervigilant backing out of the driveway so no one gets run over. It is the price we pay for progress, I guess.

The cultural  makeup has changed, too. When we moved in, most of our neighbors were Roman Catholics, and many were of Czech heritage.  Most were people whose families had lives in the area for several generations. Three families were even related to one another.  That is completely different now, and our neighbors are a mix of locals and new people, and they are far less public about their religious views.

How has your neighborhood changed since you moved in? If you have recently moved, how is your new neighborhood different than your old one?

The Family Escutcheon

Today’s Post comes from Occasional Caroline.

My nephew turned 40 over the weekend. He has had challenges throughout many of those years, including struggling with addictions. He has been sober for a number of years and is doing well now, but is ever vigilant not to slip back down that slippery slope. Forty is a milestone and he invited family and friends to a gathering to help him usher in the new decade. The invitation and his situation, brought to mind an episode and an item from the family canon that I thought would be meaningful to him and support both his sobriety and his interest in family history. My problem was that the story really started in the late 1800s and the chain of custody of the actual facts has more missing links than the other kind. Here is the story I was able to cobble together from the collective memories of my mother, brother, sister and me, and present to my nephew:

We thought that you were the perfect person to hand down this family heirloom and story to. Although the people who could give us the most accurate information are no longer available to confirm or refute these “facts”, here is what might have happened that we have pieced together from the memories of those of us were around for parts of this saga. Total historical accuracy is not what you’ll read here, this is the new truth from the 21st century onward…

Long, long ago, when your great grandma, was a young girl, a man in the family (quite possibly her father, but maybe not) regularly drank more than was prudent. Each day (or possibly more or, less often) he would send one of his 3 sons, (if indeed it was Grandma’s father) to a neighborhood bar to have this brown pitcher filled with beer, and returned to quench his thirst. Grandma developed a loathing for what excessive drink could do to a man.

At some point, when he was old enough to know better (in his 40s), her son, your dad’s, aunt’s,  and my father, did one of 2 things. Or, more probably, he did both and one was the straw that broke the camel’s (Grandma’s) back.

Scenario One: He drank too much at his favorite bar, headed home, driving drunk on back roads, and was pulled over by the police and given either a DUI ticket or a warning. Somehow Grandma found out about it (back then all legal infractions were published in the local newspapers, so she may have read it, if indeed he got the ticket). In any case Grandma knew and she was furious with him.

Scenario Two: He arrived at a family gathering in a state of intoxication, which his mother quickly recognized, and she was furious with him.

Whatever the infraction/(s) was/were, at some point, still furious, his mother presented the family symbol of excessive drink, the brown beer pitcher, to her son as a stern reminder of her fury and disapproval of his lack of sobriety. It was also, of course a loving reminder of her parental devotion, and concern for his welfare. We are all quite certain that his mother never, ever saw him drunk again (which is not to say that he was never drunk again, just not in her presence).

So, with pride and recognition of your years of sobriety, and to commemorate your fortieth birthday, we present you with that same little brown jug, which is now the family symbol of keeping the plug in the jug.

You have become the keeper of the story and the jug, and you may use, alter, enhance, embellish, retell, hide, proclaim, ignore, or do anything else with them you wish.

Author’s note: I have thoroughly examined the pitcher for any identifying marks and found nothing etched, stamped or printed anywhere on it to help identify where or when it began. It is fairly small, about 7 inches high. Notice that the handle appears to be a greyhound. What’s up with that? In any case, if the back story is at all accurate, we assume that the pitcher is at least as old as my grandmother would be; she was born in 1890, so nearly 130 years, but it could be older.

 

What’s in your family canon? How has  your family embellished family “history”? 

Lucky Duck

We ate out a lot in Los Angeles early last month, and our wait staff were all very friendly and inquired about the reason for our visit. Every time we explained were in in the city for Daughter’s graduation from USC,  she got something free. She received several lovely gratis desserts and one free breakfast.

She traveled to Iceland last Saturday, and was informed earlier in the week  that she had won some sort of Icelandic Air lottery for a free upgrade to First Class seating. She bought her original round trip ticket for $500. She said the First Class lounge at Seatac was “quite the place” with an open bar and a buffet.  (She was too sophisticated  to take a photo of it for her curious mother! ) Once boarded,  she drank free champagne and slept in great comfort on the flight to Reykjavik.

She is in Iceland with her best friend.  Today they sent me a video of them belting “All We Like Sheep” from Handel’s Messiah, as they sped down an Icelandic road lined with flocks of sheep. They have been best friends for 19 years, They are staying in a country inn-a four star hotel called the Hotel Grimsborgir. When they checked in on Monday,  they were given a free upgrade to a fancy suite because it was Best Friend’s 25th birthday.   How lucky, both in upgrades and friendship!

When have you been lucky? Where would you like to travel with your best friend?

You Call That Art?

We went to The Broad Museum in Los Angeles in May. It is a museum of contemporary art with works by  Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, among others.  Admission is free, and the place was packed with citizens of all ages. They had a special exhibition called “Soul of a Nation, Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983” curated by the Tate Modern out of London, that Husband went to. He said it was interesting but hard to describe.

Daughter and I viewed the general collection.  It was fun to tell her about Warhol and show her the paintings of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, and the soup cans. The Lichtenstein comic-inspired paintings were far bigger than I ever imagined they would be and were pretty amazing to finally see in person.  She liked all of it, but neither of us quite understood what we were looking at. It is all significant, but I don’t know the reason why. I really don’t know the meaning of the big blue Dachshund made out of plastic or the enormous dining room table and chairs.

What are your experiences with modern art? What are your favorite art works?

I Wish I Could Be Sadder About It…..

Thanks to YA’s boyfriend being sick, I had a near-perfect week!

Based on the minimal information YA was sharing (or was given most probably), Boyfriend had strep but waited until late Saturday to go to the MinuteClinic and was in no mood for company or companionship the entire weekend. And this is the first Saturday of YA’s summer work schedule, which means her Saturday morning is clear.  She was up early and rarin’ to go!

We made a quick stop at the library, a stop at the hardware store (where there was a dog to pet), time at the gym, some shopping at the co-op. While we were shopping she decided she wanted to make a particular recipe so we bought her ingredients as well.  She said she wanted to do cooking first before yardwork, so we spent a nice hour in the kitchen.  I made corn chowder in my instant pot and a fried halloumi salad; she made a black bean, corn, mango salsa in lettuce cups.  Then yardwork – some together but some separate – me in the front, her in the back.  She even made a little fire in the fire pit which we enjoyed for a bit.  Then we walked up to dinner at The Malt Shop, during which she actually put her phone away.

Then on Sunday, she did some homework while I had time in my studio, then we spent a few hours doing the Open Streets on Lyndale festival. She suggested we walk instead of bike so we could pet dogs more easily.  This was a great suggestion – we lost count of how many dogs we had petted around the 50 mark!  Mini donuts, animal petting zoo, shave ice and some of the prettiest dark purple miniature irises I’ve ever seen.  She had more homework so I spent a little more time in my studio.

Really the only semi-rough patch in the whole weekend was when I had to not be negative when she died her hair purple on Saturday night! And even then, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be.

When was the last time you benefited from someone else’s bad times?

 

 

Been There, Done That

We traveled to Los Angeles in early May.  I hadn’t been there since 1978. The air was certainly cleaner this time around.  Our accommodations were lovely. We had a very nice time, ate in great restaurants, and had fun with our daughter.  The people we met were very friendly. Our flight connections worked as well as could be expected, and we had no major glitches in our travel plans. Aside from some cool and rainy weather, it was a great trip.

It was kind of surprising when both husband and I independently stated that, as far as we were concerned, neither of us had to go back to Los Angeles ever again.  We had been there, done that, and now we wanted to move on to other things.

I suppose it could be a sign that we are aging, and the fast pace of such a vibrant city was more than we could tolerate. I don’t think it is only that, though. I think it means that it is more important for us to do things that are truly meaningful and feed our souls. While I dislike how the word is bandied about, we want to be more mindful when we travel.

What are you relieved to be finished with?