Thursday, December 18, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #337
Nancy White Kelly

It is almost Christmas. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. It is this way every year. I start early by buying gifts in July and tucking them away in the bedroom closet. One summer I found a stash of missed Christmas presents that transformed themselves into birthday or “no occasion” gifts instead.

Today Buddy and I attended the first Christmas performance that included Charlie and Tori’s sons. Grandson Micah is going on four. Noah is not yet two.

Micah sang Jingle Bells and vigorously rang the batch of silver bells attached to his wrist. He was unaware or didn’t care that he was supposed to keep time with the music. Nobody else seemed to care either as video cameras and digital flashes recorded the rehearsed, yet spontaneous antics for future amusement.

Little Noah, dressed in a Santa suit, was pulled around the church auditorium in a red wagon caravan. Our grandboys were adorable, but what would you expect a proud grandmother to write?

Micah was born prematurely and his parents insist he has slight developmental problems. I don’t notice anything amiss. Being a former professional educator, you’d think I would spot anything significantly troublesome. Charlie says I don’t notice Micah’s language lag because I don’t see him daily. All I see is a quiet, deep thinking little boy who puts together complicated puzzles better than I could. No, Micah isn’t a big talker, but he communicates effectively when he wants to do so.

I was never a big talker either. My mother often told me that, as a baby, I would sit in the floor and entertain myself for hours. I can still do that. Not sit in the floor, mind you, but I can certainly entertain myself without human assistance. There are just not enough hours in the day or sustained energy to accomplish everything on my want to do list after my have to do chores are completed.

Buddy is a morning person and insists I come to bed at night earlier than I would like. It isn’t that he is so concerned about my lack of slumber. He just needs a warm body so he can sleep himself. If he weren’t so persistent about lights out, I would be a perpetual nibbling, nocturnal, computer-using, book-reading junkie.

But, back to our youngest grandson, Noah. I promise he is developing his grandfather’s sense of humor. This was the toddler’s conversation with his mother just yesterday.

TORI: Noah!
NOAH: What?
TORI: Don’t say “what.” Say “Mam.”
Gotta love him!


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #336

Nancy White Kelly

November has never been my favorite month. It seems that major negative events have always occurred during the eleventh month of the year. Both my parents died in November in Memphis in the same hospital room only a few years apart.

Last month I probably came as close to dying as ever in my life. I am called the Living Lady for good reason. My life has been filled with many close calls including a stint in hospice. It is with thanksgiving that I am happy to report that I am well on the road to recovery again. Our now three- year- old grandson, Micah, says it best: “Granny better now.”

December is always a pleasant month, partly because we don’t play up the materialistic aspect. We do have gifts and a tree, but it is family time and we enjoy just being together laughing and reminiscing.

Having been born on a snowy Christmas Eve during World War II, my birthday always barges into Christmas affairs. Nobody complains about it. After all, only God determines who is born and when.
This year I am a bit nostalgic. In sixty-four years society in America has changed dramatically. Being a member of the era of the greatest generation, I fondly remember peculiar things like S & H green stamps and the struggle with rubber girdles. I felt pride in fictional heroes like the Lone Ranger and high-achievers like Helen Keller. In my pre-teen years I felt vulnerable to potential lurking villains while listening intently to radio dramas. “The Shadow Knows,” with its musical crescendos, was one of my favorites.
Our family couldn’t wait to get one of those new black and white televisions. We thought nothing of waiting five minutes or more for it to warm up. I was by mesmerized by Howdy Doody and Clarabelle. We kids were Mama and Daddy’s remote control, changing channels at night for their favorite shows like “I Love Lucy” or “Dragnet.”

If the old Brownie snapshots were in color then, they would have shown my rosy cheeks and purple lips. That was because my favorite snack was Kool-Aid with sugar. The neighborhood girls played hopscotch on sidewalks and boys raced in the streets with metal skates that had cleats attached to shoe soles.

After supper, we played cork ball until dark. On rainy days, my oldest brother and I jumped the rafters in the garage while playing wood tag. For my younger brothers, those weren’t the days of wine and roses, but swinging vines and bloody noses.

I loved the fifties. Elvis. Poodle skirts. Black and white Oxford shoes. The sixties were college years, especially memorable because of the racial turbulence. The seventies brought the Beatles, the escalating drug culture, and a stream of foster children into our home. Two of those are deceased now, one from severe diabetic complications and the other from a drug over-dose. The eighties were happy years. Our son Charlie was born after fifteen years of marriage and we adopted Bobby, the last one of our foster children. The nineties were good years. We moved to the mountains and started new friendships that still thrive.

Here we are almost a decade into the 21st century. Last week a friend I had not seen for twenty years dropped by for a surprise visit. We took up where we left off, hardly missing a beat. That is the way it is with good friends. Even though time gaps occur in a relationship, we are joined by shared experiences and good memories.
I can name many friends, most whom I taught somewhere at some place, who finished their earthly course this decade: Gary, Ed, Ted, Guy, Dick, Ramie, Hadyn, Jim, Al, Tom, and Bob to name a few. Life is short. The Bible says it plainly in James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Sixty-four years. How many more times will God call off the death angels in response to the prayer of friends and relatives? Only He knows. I am glad I don’t know my expiration date, but believe that it is a good idea to live as though it could be today.
For some it will be.