Posted by: chlost | August 21, 2014

Damn Cancer

My laptop is currently in the computer hospital, I have had little opportunity to blog, just a comment here and there on other’s sites. I have been reading them, but writing a post is way too challenging. Right now, I have a few minutes at the PC.

On Monday, I received an email telling me that my friend’s husband is in his “end days”. It was just over a month ago that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He will be dying soon, almost exactly one year from the date of my friend’s dad’s death. Yet she is remarkably strong. I am not sure where that is coming from, but I do expect that she will eventually crash. I can only hope that there is someone there to catch her when the crash comes. She is not one to ask for help.

In the days since I learned of his imminent death, my mind has been filled with a list of people who have touched the circle of my life who have died from cancer. The list is longer than I had realized. I feel fortunate in that there are no children on that list. But each of those on my list of cancer losses still had much life to live when the disease took them.

The first time that I heard the word cancer was when there were whispers about my best friend’s mom. The adults tried to keep the information from the kids. We were just 13 years old when Sue’s mom Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer. We knew it was bad. I don’t think I truly recognized that she would die. There were very few treatment options back in the late 1960’s. I remember that she went far away from home for some experimental treatments. She was ill for a long time. My family moved away near the end of her life. My mom returned to help out with her care at the very end. Some 40 years later, my friend Sue still mourns her mom’s death.

Over the years there have been many others passing through my life whom I have lost to cancer. My mother-in-law Marjorie-the sweetest woman you can imagine-her cancer returned nearly 30 years after it had originally been vanquished. We were lucky enough to have a celebration of her 75th birthday while she was in remission. She died just a few months later.

My stepmother, Anne, died of lung cancer just a few months after her diagnosis. She was not able to even start her chemo treatments. She was my father’s third wife. His true soul mate. He was never the same. They were married only 5 years before her death.

My husband’s Aunt Grace, a “maiden aunt” who had spent the best years of her life caring for her mother, had just seemed to be coming into her own. She lived in a hoarder home, and it had just been cleaned out a year or so before her death. The doctors had not been able to identify her illness over many months. They finally did an exploratory surgery and found that her colon cancer was so advanced that there was nothing to be done. They didn’t even use stitches to close her incision. She died just a few days later.

My friend Jan had a brain tumor. Technically, it was not called cancer, but the tumor grew and grew. The surgeons removed as much of it as they could, but the tumor returned. The tumor took away her judgment and control. Her actions were like a two-year old child. When she died in a nursing home just before her 50th birthday, she weighed over 500 pounds after eating any and all candy she could find.

My husband’s family has been particularly hard hit by this disease. His mom and aunt, as noted above, his uncle Clint, his aunt Pat, his cousin’s husband Bill, and his sister-in-law’s father Bill all died of cancer, each of a different variety.

My former office mate, Harold died of cancer as well. His son had just graduated from law school. Harold asked me several months before his death, “Do you think my boy will be okay working as a lawyer in this town?”. Yes, he did just fine, Harold. His son is now a judge.

Harold’s secretary, Arlene, also died of lung cancer. Again, she died fairly shortly after her diagnosis. I don’t remember for sure, but I think she had only a few chemo treatments before she was so weak that they had to stop.

My former secretary’s husband, Paul also died very quickly after his diagnosis. They had divorced several months earlier. She decided to remarry him before his death. It was a bittersweet wedding. Everyone knew that he was dying. It was more of a practical matter than romantic. It provided her with more financial stability after his death than it would have been had they been divorced at his death.

One of the local judges was also a victim. He was not particularly well-liked by most of the attorneys in the area. But he didn’t deserve to die like that-it was a particularly virulent cancer which ended his life within the year after his diagnosis. He never returned to work.

A social worker for the county was able to return to work, at least for a short while. I remember her long, thick, wild hair. She was of Italian heritage, with the stereotypical fiery, hot personality. She was a great social worker, who fought for her clients. She also handled some of the toughest jobs-that of mediation for separating parents fighting over the custody of their children. Somehow, she helped them reach resolution in almost all of her cases.

And now, Larry. My friend’s husband is soon to be added to my list. Even though they have been married for 36 years, I have really never known him well. They have 5 adult children. She parented on her own for most of their marriage. He never really found a job that fit him. He had his own businesses, several of which closed down. She stuck by him through it all. She went back to college and graduated at age 50, and she became the primary income. When he could not work due to dementia, she was the sole wage earner. She sold their home close to her work and moved him back to the lake home he loved. Now he is dying in that home. It will likely be today, maybe tomorrow.

Cancer sucks.






Posted by: chlost | July 14, 2014

When you find out what those vows really mean

Life certainly can bring ups and downs.

This past weekend, we attended Merle’s nephew’s wedding. He is a great kid. They have been together for the past seven years, as they began dating when he was 20 and she was 17. The biggest memory of the wedding day will definitely be that he had to wear his dad’s pants. The khaki slacks that he had planned to wear for a relatively casual wedding suit split across his bottom in a way that defied any attempt at repair. So he wore his dad’s slacks and dad wore a pair he’d worn the day before. No one would have known, but the family had some good laughs over it all.

I am always curious to see what the wedding couple uses for their vows. This couple was married in the Catholic Church. As I expected, they used the traditional “ good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ’till death do us part”. They are young. They have no idea exactly what that means. Young couples have no idea as to how good the good times may be, or how bad the bad times will be. And they certainly are not thinking about sickness and health as they stand up there in the fancy wedding clothes with all of their friends and family all around them.

If they did, no one would get married.

While we were there, I got a voice mail message from a friend- telling me that our third friend’s husband was just diagnosed with lung cancer and is expected to live only a few months. No one saw that one coming. He has dementia and really has no idea of what that means. He had a lung x-ray last January which showed nothing. He went in to the doctor on Thursday for a cough, had an x-ray and there was a fist-sized tumor in his lung which had collapsed a section of the lung.

No wonder he was coughing.

My friend and her family are in shock. She and her husband have five adult children. They have struggled with the dementia. My friend is the only one he seems to know on a regular basis. Sometimes he recognizes their children, other times he does not. And now this.

This news is a bit hard to take in. My friend has been stretched to the limit in trying to meet her husband’s needs, those of her children and grandchildren, and dealt with the death of her own father just this past year. She works full time. She commutes a long distance in order to allow her husband to remain in their familiar home. She is a person who has energy that just radiates from her. Yet she has admitted to us that she cries with frustration, anger and sadness when she is alone.

Of course she does.

I imagine that there would be mixed feelings about this diagnosis. Perhaps a bit of relief that her husband will not suffer with the end term of dementia. With some guilt for feeling some relief. Maybe in the back of her mind some relief that she will not have to deal with his end term dementia condition. And guilt over that feeling.

And, of course, grief, sadness and anger over his impending death at the age of 60. Just at the time when many of our friends are planning a retirement together, she will be a widow.

In the meantime, I am hoping to be able to lend a hand in whatever way possible, even if just to pass the tissues to her.

One weekend….celebrating the beginning of a life together for two young people and learning of the end of a life together for two others.

I’d really prefer a little more time in between the ups and downs of life.

Posted by: chlost | July 9, 2014

Booking It

Suddenly, I am reading again.
For several months-perhaps a year-I had not been reading anything. This is very unusual for me. I have always been a voracious reader, and almost always was in the middle of reading a book-sometimes more than one. But over these past months I didn’t seem to be able to concentrate long enough to read a book. I would fall asleep, or just lose interest. It got to the point that I just wasn’t interested in trying any more.

While we were traveling to Virginia and back, I started reading again. No particular reason, although it did help pass the time during a very long road trip.

The last book I finished was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It is nearly 800 pages long. The main character is a young man who is looking back at his very chaotic, dysfunctional life. Except of course, it isn’t dysfunctional to him….it is just the norm.

I represent many teenagers in my job. Intellectually I know that their lives are very different from my life, and even the life of my children. But this book made me realize how the system is seen as the enemy by many kids who are struggling in a bad situation. It is very well written, and won a Pulitzer.

I also read Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. I usually like her books. This one is clearly divided into two parts…Before and After. Her characters’ attempts to deal with grief in very different ways was fascinating and eye-opening. I am still dealing with the grief of a sibling’s death. I could see myself in at least on of the characters.

I’m loving the Kindle that I use on my phone. I have lots of down time, and this lets me pick up a story anywhere, even for a short time. I still prefer books, but I see the advantages to the electronics in some situations. They are also cheaper!

My next goal is to get my library card updated and use the library’s free downloads for books that I may want to read but not necessarily purchase. I see book lists and think that I would like to read many of those books, but don’t need to buy most of them.

My return to reading feels as though I have filled a hole in my life.


Posted by: chlost | June 30, 2014

Don’t ask me

I’m so sad. I am depressed. I’m frustrated, angry and confused.

But most of all, I am sad.

As a lawyer, the people in your life expect you to explain certain things about the law. They have somehow come to expect that someone who is a lawyer knows why the law is the law.

Yet I cannot in any way understand today’s Supreme Court ruling about the supposed religious rights of a corporation.

Don’t ask me to explain it. It makes no sense.

Previously, the Court ruled that corporations have first amendment rights to free speech, which includes the right to spend unlimited money on political causes/candidates. Now, it seems that the Court is extending the legal personhood of corporations to include the right to freedom of religion.

It makes no sense that a legal entity which is not a natural person would have any constitutional rights at all, and certainly not the right to practice a religion. I don’t think corporations were mentioned in the Constitution, and the statutes which created corporations did not extend those rights to the corporations.

“We hereby declare that all legally defined corporations are created equally, and have been endowed with certain inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness-and all of the rights heretofore established by the Constitution of the United States and the subsequent Bill of Rights”

But it didn’t. And they don’t.

The right of a religious organization like a church, to follow the tenets of the religion it is affiliated with-that makes sense. But a corporation, whether it is closely-held or public, creates a separate legal entity. Legal entities are not, no matter what this Court may say, people.

There may be an upside to this. Now that there is precedent for the “corporations are people too” position, there are other areas where we should determine that their personhood should result in a corporation being treated just like any other person.

If a corporation breaks the law…..put the “closely held” owners in jail. No special treatment or argument that the corporation is owned by “shareholders” who cannot be held criminally liable. Being required to prove a specific individual acted outside the scope of their responsibilities should be rescinded.

Corporations should not receive favorable corporate tax rates or breaks. Let’s tax them just like a person, under the individual tax laws. And no lower tax rates for the dividends, either. An owner of a corporation should not get special treatment. If a natural-born person can’t get the tax rate, neither should a corporation.

(Just out of curiosity, how does it work that natural-born people are able own all or part of this corporate person? Isn’t a person owning a person considered slavery? It could be an interesting argument.)

Apparently in her dissent, Justice Ginsburg has warned about the dire possibilities that can result from this decision. That’s an understatement. There may be some unintended consequences that could be positive….a slight chance, but possible.

Maybe this decision will be the catalyst to get our health insurance system out of the employer-paid model and into a single-payer system. It’d be the only good thing that I can imagine coming from this…..similar to the push for constitutional bans on gay marriage that pushed us into the nearly universal acceptance of marriage equality.

That would be a possibility in the far future.

In the meantime, I am very tired of the conservative agenda of this country. I am nearing retirement. I’ve considered living overseas at least part-time when I retire. Now I am seriously thinking that I can’t stay here after retirement It’s more likely that we will look into permanent residency out of the country, and just visit the kids and grandkids or have them visit us.

I don’t think my blood pressure can take much more of the politicalization of every aspect of our lives here. And now that the one bastion of neutrality and reasonableness seems to have become a shill for the conservative mindset, I will have to pack it in to protect my mental and physical health.

Of course, I will make certain that I will have full access to health care wherever I live.

And I’m sorry for those of you who will be left behind with this sorry state of affairs.

Posted by: chlost | June 28, 2014

Can you hear/see/read me now?

It was time. This week, Merle and I entered the 21st century with the purchase of our first smart phones. We both now have a Galaxy S5.

He lost his old phone. If not for that, it would have been a bit longer before we jumped into this more technological world.  We are never on the cutting edge, we prefer to wait and be sure that any technology will really be worth the investment.

After all, we’ve only had cell phones for five years. And I loved the keyboard on the second phone I had.

It’s now been a week, and I think I have most of the important things figured out.

I can answer a call. The first call came before I’d read the manual. It was a bit tricky. I had no idea where to push the button, and didn’t know I had to slide it across the screen.

I can send a text message. It is more complicated than my old phone. the contacts list is less user-friendly. I do give it points for being easier to read.

I can even send a voice activated text. I remember when the thought of voice identification was just a crazy fantasy. No one really imagined that it could work. And now it is in my little phone. Very cool.

I have my blue-tooth installed in my car, and I can make hands-free calls while I am driving. I will admit that Merle set that up, but I did figure out how to get it to work.

I have been taking photos with it. In fact, that is one of the reasons I bought this phone, rather than an IPhone. My camera broke (granddaughter 3 dropped it) so with the much higher pixel count on this phone, I am hoping that the phone can replace my point and shoot camera.

There were a few apps preloaded on the phone, but I have been adding a few more. So far, I have not paid for any app, they are all free ones. I love the radar weather. With all of the rain we’ve had lately, it is nice to see where the storms are and to have some idea of how much time until they hit.

I have downloaded some books and have been doing some reading on it. The screen is very large, and with my reading glasses, I can read very easily. Again, I had been considering a tablet, but I am thinking the phone may be big enough that I don’t have to do that.

I have downloaded a few free games. I am worried that I am getting addicted to “Tap the Frog”. It is one of the most mindless games that you can imagine (the name says it all), but I am just competitive enough to keep trying to get to the next level.

There are a few downsides, though.

I have tried to use it for the blog, but that is just not going to work. The one thing that I have to say I don’t like at all is the keyboard. It is a touch screen, and it frustrates me to no end. The keys are small for my fingers. I am constantly hitting the wrong ones, or two at a time. The auto correct is horrible. If I don’t think to check before I send out a message, the words are totally crazy. It does not like many of the words I use, apparently. I’m just not in line with the most common words used in certain linguistic combinations. Oh, well.

One of the major things I still need to do is to download photos from the phone on to the laptop. That is something I will be trying yet this weekend.

The battery doesn’t stay charged for long.

It doesn’t fit into a pocket well. And it is even a bit big for my purse. That makes me worry about dropping it.

Merle is having a bit more trouble. I have heard him several times, screaming at the phone in frustration. He has sworn a blue streak when it doesn’t do what he expects. He is of the generation that if you push harder on a button, it works better. When he uses a computer keyboard,those keys go down with a bang, like a typewriter used to require. That doesn’t really work well with the touch screen keyboard.

However, slowly but surely we are getting up and running, and feeling quite happy about it. I have been telling others that the phone makes me feel old and stupid when I can’t figure out how to do something with it, and I feel very smart when I finally figure it out. Unfortunately, I can’t remember how I did it when I try to show Merle how it is done.

Hopefully, taking on this new-fangled stuff is helping to keep us more nimble-minded. I’ll be ready to take on the next fancy new tech item. But not too soon.

Now if only my kids weren’t snickering so much about mom and dad and their smartphone challenges.

They forget that I saw them naked all those years. And I only giggled a little.

Posted by: chlost | June 19, 2014

It’s just life

When it gets to be a long time in between posts, I find it difficult to figure out what I want to write. It’s now been quite a while since the last post. Which means that I have no idea what to type.

I guess that I will just see what happens if I let my fingers go and just put the letters on the screen.

We have had a lot of change around our place.

For the past 9 months or so, our son, daughter-in-law and their 3 little girls have been living with us. It was a busy, noisy, messy place. I will admit that I was beginning to be annoyed by some things. Not the kids. But my son and daughter-in-law seemed so depressed and tired that they would not clean up the dishes after a meal. The kids’ toys were everywhere. Clothing was strewn about, shoes in a jumble in the mudroom.

Believe me, I am no clean freak. But it was getting to be more than even I could stand. I know that they had virtually no money, yet we would see new things coming into the house. My daughter-in-law was working as a waitress and would often have cash tips. Craigslist was apparently therapeutic for her.

I know a bit about depression. All of the signs were there, and both of them seemed to be overwhelmed. Yet our roles were a bit fuzzy. They are adults. We tried to talk to them, but were often stonewalled. The kids were cared for, but it seemed that it was becoming just a chore for them.

I was relieved when they began seeing a couples counselor. There were many ups and downs. Each week it was something else, a rollercoaster of a crisis heading toward divorce, then a newfound focus for their relationship. I babysat and played with the girls as much as possible. My husband’s patience with the little girls is much less than mine. He would often become frustrated.

Suddenly, our daughter-in-law decided that she no longer wanted to be living here. I understand that. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to live with your in-laws (even if they are as perfect as Merle and me!) It was rather amazing to watch. She made up her mind, and suddenly they were in the process of moving. There were a few days where it was unclear if all of them would be moving or only she and the girls. Finally, with the help of their counselor, it seemed that they cleared the air and they were determined to stay together as a family. Then daughter-in-law’s mother was suddenly in the picture, and she offered them the free use of a small house that she owns in a very small town about 2 hours away. The plan was that the girls would finish the school year here and the next week they would move into that house in that small town, near daughter-in-law’s family.

And suddenly, our house is quiet.

No toys are on the floor, the stairway or the furniture.

There are no dirty dishes on the counter.

The bunkbeds are gone.

And only the dog greets me at the door when I get home rather than the running hugs of three little girls.

It’s been a long week.

This is going to take some adjustment. The empty nest syndrome- again. We went through this when all of our kids moved out, then again the previous time our son and his family lived with us, and now this time.

It isn’t any easier this time.

Just before they moved, Merle and I went to my nephew’s high school graduation. He lives in Virginia Beach with my brother-in-law. This is my sister’s only child. She passed away about 4 years ago. We took my 84 y/o mother, my oldest granddaughter, and met up with my other sister and her husband to drive half-way across the country. It was a two-day trip, two days visiting, and two days to come home.

I love road trips. I’d rather have a little more time at the destination, but overall, it is fun to be on the road. It was the first road trip for our granddaughter. At age 7, we thought she would be able to enjoy it. Everyone expected that we would have at least some meltdowns, some behavior issues, or some sort of fall out from sleep deprivation or boredom.

But she was awesome. We had a great time. She did not have any problems whatsoever. We gave her the portable GPS and she watched the little car icon on the screen as it moved across the country. She told us the directions as they came up on the screen. She gave us the travel time and mileage information. It was perfect for her. This was her first time staying in a hotel, and her first time at the ocean. My nephew played Mario Kart and Wii bowling with her. She loved it all.

I loved watching it all through her eyes. As she ran along the beach dodging the waves, squealing with delight, laughing and jumping up and down….I was nearly in tears myself.

Of course, we had to justify to her younger sisters that the reason that their older sister was able to go on the trip and they couldn’t, was that she was 7 years old. Now, when each of them reaches 7, we have promised that they can go on a road trip with us as well. The middle granddaughter who is now 5, has already decided that she wants to go to California to see the ocean. I’m not sure what that leaves for the 3 year-old’s trip. We’ve run out of oceans.

On our way home, we stopped at my mother’s birthplace, and where my sister’s remains are buried. My brother had made all of the arrangements for a marker, and it was just recently installed. My brother-in-law had never done anything with my sister’s ashes. He sent them to me, and my siblings and I made arrangements for the burial of her cremains there. My brother-in-law has never asked about it. We have volunteered information to him so that he knows about it, but he is not at all interested. I don’t think he could find this town. I am not sure he remembers the name of the town. My nephew has never asked about it. He is 18 years old now. He definitely does not know anything about the town. So I sent him an email with a photo of the marker, and just a little note about it.

He hasn’t responded.

And that makes me very sad.

As I watched him graduate, and as all of the photos were being taken, I began to cry. My sister had to be there in some sense. I could picture her standing at the side of my nephew with my brother-in-law on the other. She made it to all of my kids’ graduations, and I know that she would have been happy that my sister and I were there for her son. Not one person from my brother-in-law’s family was there. One of my sister’s best friends was there, along with his mother (who was also a good friend of my sister) along with our Midwestern contingent.

My sister-I am sure of it-is glad that we were there.

That long long road trip was worth it


There was the ocean!

Alex Grad 2014 Mark's 095

Alex Grad 2014 Mark's 119

Alex Grad 2014 Mark's 111

Life does go on.

Posted by: chlost | May 16, 2014

Country Roads

We live in a semi-rural area. Suburban style subdivisions share the land with large farms. Big old red barns may sit alongside a split-level home with fancy cars parked in the driveway.

The change of seasons is evident in the farm fields. Over the years we have watched the annual evolution of dirt to crop and back to dirt as we drive the county roads to and from our home.

As I drive out of our subdivision, this is the view which is laid out before me while I wait to turn onto the county road which feeds into the highway leading to my office:


This is a potato field. The soil here is very sandy. It is apparently quite good for growing potatoes, because there are several different potato farms within a short distance of our home. The big deep rows have the seed potato chunks planted into them. This is a field of small red potatoes.

I can mark the progression of summer by watching the changes in the field. When the potato plants bloom, the summer will be half done. After they begin to bloom, a crop-dusting plane flies over the field and sprays them to kill the plants above ground. After the plants die back, the potatoes are harvested with a special tractor and carried away in very large trucks filled to the brim with little red potatoes.

I’ve never been a farmer, although I know many people who are farmers. I have learned a lot from them about the land, and weather, and the way food is produced. Even as a kid, I spent most of my growing-up years in and near farm areas. My grandparents would take Sunday drives into “the country” to check on the progress of the farmers’ crops. “As the crops go,” they’d say, “so goes the economy.”

It is something that I would miss if I lived in a big city, I think. And as much as I love the mountains, if I lived in a mountainous area I would miss the rich flatness of the plains. The sight of the fields filling with green each summer is an integral part of the year.

When I drive up to that intersection each morning, I know that in my heart this is home.

Posted by: chlost | May 10, 2014


Tonight-last minute.of course-I went to the card shop in search of the perfect Mother’s Day card.

There are all types of cards these days, in an attempt to fit every mother and child relationship. I searched through all of the flowery sugar sweet cards, the ones for the person “who is just like a mother” and for the mother-in-law cards. Most were pretty lame.

But I found one that made me laugh out loud right there in the card shop. I had to buy it just to share it.


Now, to truly appreciate this, you have to understand that my mother worked for Planned Parenthood back in the day. Also, it helps to know that there has been more than one mother in our family who’s been “surprised” by her impending motherhood. It’s always turned out to be a wonderful surprise, however.

For the record, I got another card for my mom. I’m not actually giving this one to her.

Happy Mother’s Day-whether you were a “surprise” for your mom, or if you had a “surprise” (or two in our case) in becoming a mother. It is a great day to enjoy family.


Posted by: chlost | May 6, 2014

Hair today…….and tomorrow?

This evening I had a long-overdue haircut. It is one of my few splurges. I drive into the city and pay $70 for something that I would pay $40 for closer to home. I’ve always thought it was worth it, though.  There is nothing like having a really good cut. It does wonders for the ego as much as the hair.

My hairdresser is a funky guy, probably in his 40’s, recently married for the first time. He rides his Harley to work when weather permits, otherwise he drives his Escalade. He’s obviously doing well. His hair is usually shoulder-length, with a bandana of some sort.  He and I are totally different-me-an “older” conservative-looking lady lawyer, he a trendy, long-haired, tattooed biker stylist.

We get along great.

His mom was going through a divorce, and he hired me to represent her. We got to know each other pretty well. Each time I am in the salon, he gives me the updates on her, and I get to pass along my good wishes to her. It is usually a pleasant hour of chatting and catching up on his life.

Tonight he told me that he is “retiring”.

Not in the normal sense of the word. He is going to start a new business venture. He is excited and quite happy about his future for the first time in quite a while. He looked about ten years younger as he told me about it.

But what about me? What am I going to do? How in the world do you find a new hairstylist? Who is going to be able to make my string-straight, baby fine mop of graying hair do anything?

This summer is my oldest son’s wedding. That means that I have to look somewhat presentable. This is what I  obsessed over the entire one hour drive home. What am I going to look like in all of those photos? Whatever haircut I have will be memorialized for all time in those wedding photos. Will my son and his wife always look at their wedding photos and think “Ack! What was she thinking? That looked horrible!” or “Wow! Mom looked great!”

My future hangs in the balance. This is going to be quite a challenge.

Posted by: chlost | April 27, 2014

Lucky Seven


In my youth, I would never have imagined that word would apply to me. My grandparents looked ancient to my young eyes. Being  anyone’s Grandma was beyond my comprehension I never even considered that I would be a grandmother.

As a teenager, I was adamant that I would not have children. It was the seventies. Women were just discovering that they may have options beyond marriage and motherhood (and just for the record, those two always went together-there was no motherhood without marriage).

My options were expanded far beyond my mother’s. College. Law school.

And then…..motherhood.

Still, being a grandparent seemed remote. In surviving the years of parenting three busy children, the concept of being a grandmother was not anywhere in my life as I envisioned it. My future consisted of making it through to the next round of daycare, school, work, feeding children, housework, sleep. Repeat.

But seven years ago today, I found that I was a grandma. A little girl’s grandma. I loved that little girl from the moment I saw her.  It was the same for her sisters. I was not prepared for this love affair with children who were not mine. Maybe because they were my sons’ children rather than my daughter’s, it seemed totally bizarre to consider my child as a parent.

And although I’d had nine months to prepare myself for the label of grandmother, it caught me completely off guard. I had no idea how to be a grandma. I did not want to be a grandma. I did not want to be old-an old grandma.

The word grandma itself was terrible. I hated it.

My oldest granddaughter called me “Ga” when she started to talk. I encouraged that name. Now all three of my granddaughters call me Ga.

And over the past seven years I have settled in to my role as Ga. Not always easily. It is sometimes very difficult to say nothing as I watch my grandchild’s parents struggle in their role as mother and father. It is very hard at times to encourage my grandchildren to follow the rules set by their parents, the rules which are not rules which my husband and I would set. My instinct is to be generous with my grandchildren, to allow them leeway as to food, activities and schedules in our home.

Being Ga has helped me in unexpected ways. Even at my age, I have learned new things (to be a horse, your hands must be in a loose fist-to make hooves-as you walk around the house on all fours). My memory has dredged up things from my childhood I did not even know were there. (“Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac- all dressed in black, black, black-with silver buttons, buttons, buttons-all down her back, back, back…..” Who knew that was still in my brain somewhere?)

Mark Sept 2013-April 2014 258

Seven years old, and already heading out into the world with her new bicycle and her new cowgirl boots…both were favorite birthday presents.

Seven years. SEVEN years. I am shocked that she has been a part of my life for that long, and that it has been such a short time. I don’t really remember my life before being a grandmother.

I love these girls fiercely. I would do anything for them. I would (and have) paid anything for their benefit. I love to snuggle with them. I love to talk with them. I look forward to everything they do-new words, new development stages-my seven-year old granddaughter just started to read chapter books and she wants to share them with me. I can recommend the Cam Jansen mysteries.

Life without grandchildren is now unthinkable to me. I am looking forward to my other children’s children. The holidays with a houseful of grandchildren, dogs, children and their spouses or significant others, toys, books and videos. This is the life of my future. My happiness.

My unexpected, undeserved, unbelievable life as a grandma.



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