Monday, October 29, 2012

Tears and a Smile

My friend Jen's grandmother died a few days before I headed to Ohio in September. Jen and I not only went to high school together, but our parents also grew up in the same small Ohio town (this sounds like a John Mellancamp song), which meant even our grandparents were friends. Jen and I are linked by generations, which is a cool thing.

So anyway, it was nice that I got to see Jen in person and give her a hug while I was in Ohio, because like me, her grandparents have played a big role in her life, and she has been lucky, like me, to have her grandparents into her own adulthood. So many people don't get to have that!

When I picked up mail on Saturday, there was an envelope from Jen. In it, were two recipe cards with my grandma's name, Floriene, on them. One was typed, one was in her own handwriting. Tears popped immediately into my eyes, and then I smiled. What's that line from Steel Magnolias? Something like, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." And it's so true. (And what the heck? Between a Laugh and a Tear: another John Mellancamp song! I swear I didn't plan this.) While Jen was going through her grandmother's things, she found the recipes that my grandma had given her grandma.

I still have cards and letters my grandma sent me over the years, and I have her recipe box, as well, so it's not like I couldn't get them out and look at her handwriting or hear her "voice" whenever I want to, but there was something so wholly unexpected about coming out of the post office on a fall Saturday morning and receiving something ao dear to you that someone else came across, thought of you, and then cared enough to put it in the mail in this age of electronic communication.

To me, it was the equivalent of gold, in both memory and friendship.

Me with Grandma and Grandpa Moffit circa 1993 -- almost 20 years ago! Eeek!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Where, Oh Where Have I Been?

Well, I did go to Ohio for about 12 days! Yes, I just up and left Eamonn and the boys to fend for themselves. OK, not really. I planned out meals, shopped, set up carpool and afterschool care, and THEN I left. People asked if the house was a wreck when I got back. Nope, not even close. It was clean, organized, and all the laundry was caught up on.

I wondered if a maid had been here hours before I got home.

Just kidding. Eamonn is really good about keeping things clean and organized.

I have to tell you, I'm not totally sure the boys missed me all that much! Which I'm OK and not OK with all at the same time. It took a load off of my mind when, a few days into my trip, I realized no one was pining for me. But then I did think, "Why aren't they pining for me?"

It really reinforced to me that as parents, we want to enjoy our time with our kids, but really, our lives are dedicated to helping them get ready to go away from us. Eamonn's cousin said something to that effect to me when Declan was just a baby, but I couldn't really wrap my head around it at the time. In fact, I bet in my post-partum haze, I probably cried into my baby's bald head and thought, "My baby is NEVER leaving me!"

Tee hee. Now that we live in a small-ish town, I often wonder how old they'll be (if they're not at that point already) before they start thinking, "I cannot wait to get out of this one-horse town and hit the city!"

Going "home" to Ohio is always bittersweet, especially at this time of year. Fall in Ohio can be dicey if it's cold and rainy, but for the most part, it's usually very lovely. The yellow aspen leaves in the fall here in Colorado are beautiful, but my heart belongs to the reds and oranges of my youth. And there is a specific smell to every season in Ohio, the smell of an Ohio fall especially brings back such vivid memories: OSU football on the radio, raking leaves, making leaf houses and paths, the smell of actual woodburning fireplaces before everyone switched to gas fireplaces, the crunch of leaves under your feet, the smell of cigarette smoke outside at a high school football game, the sound of the marching band practicing in front of the school, homemade soup on the stove...truly, it's my favorite season there.

I think another reason that going home is so bittersweet, regardless of the season, is that I find I can so easily slide back into life with my oldest and best friends. We sit down over coffee, breakfast, dinner, a beer, and in the summer, with our kids at the pool, and it's like no time has elapsed at all. We literally pick up a conversation as if we were speaking 5 minutes ago, not a year ago. "Wait, where was I? Oh, right..." Wherever you go in your life and wherever you live, you will make new friends, and they will be very good friends. But there's something about people who know your backstory already, who know all of your faults, but love you anyway -- those are the people who make up the very backbone of our lives.

One of the cool things my friend Laurie and I were talking about when I was in Ohio recently was that now our kids have become friends. Even though they only see each other once a year, the kids look forward to seeing each other and spending time together. I love, love, love that my kids are friends with my friends' kids!

On this trip, I also spent time at my Grandpa's, recording him telling stories about himself and our family. I decided to do this after I realized how much I missed the sound of my grandparents' voices. Yes, I want to preserve Grandpa's memories and stories for future generations, but I also don't want to forget the sound of his voice, his laugh, his mannerisms, the way he delivers a joke or story -- all of it. Plus, it's darn interesting to hear what a 99 1/2 year old man has to say!

So that's where I've been!

And in a very fall tradition, tonight I made apple crisp for the boys (gluten free of course!). They scarfed it down. So did I!

I love fall!