Here I am . . . home, or am I . . . merely “back?” It feels like “home” when I’m in Wisconsin, but then again, home has been South Florida for the past 17 years. At any rate, I’m writing this to you from my kitchen in hot, sticky, humid, pretty-darn-mildewy Florida. But enough about the weather, I wanted to encourage you to grab someone’s face today! Before I go any further, please enjoy this sweet pic of Winnie grabbing her own face:
I’ve had a couple of face-grabbing experiences over the summer and it occurred to me it was something pretty special. I wish I would have done more of it in the past and am convicted to grab more faces henceforth.
I just spent a few weeks in my hometown of Washburn, Wisconsin (probably the best place on earth) and spent a good bit of time with my 92 year-old Mom. She lives in an assisted living facility there where she is looked over by a wonderful staff. Want to see a picture of her? Here she is just after we went out for a “stroll” (stroll is in quotes because it involves me pushing her in her wheelchair. Not exactly level streets, mind you. It’s an effort to push her up the street and then a task to make sure I don’t lose my grip when we’re headed back down.) She loves fresh flowers so we picked a sweet little posey.
It’s not really easy to hang out with my Mom. She’s very hard of hearing, so you have to shout and you can count on having to repeat almost everything you say 3 to 4 times. God forbid you want to ask her something that requires discretion; speaking in a hushed tone is not going to work with her. And it’s hard work getting her in and out of a car (you can actually hear her bones knocking against each other in her knees. Oh, the thought makes my stomach flop) but she absolutely loves to “go for a ride,” so struggle we did, so she could enjoy the beautiful summer.
Something else my Mom loves is to hear my sister and me play the piano. I should add that my sister, Chris (Chrissie to me) is really good at playing the piano and I’m just . . well, I like to say I’m “pretty good at being a fairly average piano player.” There’s an out-of-tune piano in the dining room where my Mom lives and several times we’d play and our Mom would sing along. We’d go from “Amazing Grace” to “Beer Barrel Polka” just like that! (Honestly, in Wisconsin The Beer Barrel Polka is considered a sacred song, I think. I’m fairly certain even the most devout church-goer would not be offended by a rousing round of Roll Out the Barrel, even at the most reverent of moments!)
When it came time to say good-bye to my Mom for the summer (she “walked” Kevin and me to the door when it was time to leave), I got down in front of her to hug her and give her a kiss. (I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about this – every year I wonder if this is the last time I’ll do this.) She grabbed my face in her hands and looked straight into my eyes and told me how much she loved me. After a summer of being exhausted from strenuous walks, listening to bones crunch and shouting in her “good” ear, that all went away in that single face-grabbing moment and all I knew was my Mom loved me. I felt like a little girl. Of course, I cried as we slipped out the door, still feeling her cool hands on my cheeks.
Flash forward a bit to just a couple of days ago. My daughter, Maria, was dropping me off at the airport to come home . . or . . back. I had just had a complete meltdown with Winnie (Olive was napping so she was spared this mess) on the kitchen floor as we said good-bye to each other. Winnie feels her feelings very strongly and lets it all out – I love that about her. But, man, when she cries and says, “I don’t want you to go, Maga!” and throws her arms around my neck, I’m completely undone. But I had recovered on the 30 minute ride to the airport.
As we were pulling up to the drop-your-person-off area, I spotted another Grandma getting dropped off by her daughter. This Grandma was little farther down “Maga Road” than I (I noted her grandkids to be about 8 and 10 years old). As we got my bags out of the back, I looked over to my “sister in Maga-hood.” She had properly hugged the kids and now was saying good-bye to her daughter, her daughter a bit older than my own. She had her daughter’s face grabbed in her hands and was telling her something up close. The daughter was crying and I so wanted to know what her Mother was telling her. It was a sweet moment and I felt a bit ashamed being the voyeur, but I’d like to think she was telling her daughter to hang in there! “You’re doing a great job with these kids! I know it’s tough, but just keep at it. They’re going to be grown-up before you know it and you’ll wonder where on earth the time has gone.” Things I should say to my own daughter more often as she’s in the throes of child-rearing right now.
So let me do that right now! I’m doing a virtual face-grab – to my own sweet Maria and any other Mama out there who’s wondering if there’s life after toddlerhood. You can do it! Maria – you are the sweetest, most gentle soul I know and those girls are beyond blessed to have you as their Mother. I know there are more trying moments than easy ones right now and you’re wondering if or when on earth your kids are going to “rise up and call you blessed.” (Oh, that Proverbs 31 woman and her to-do list!!) Just keep on keepin’ on! You can’t even imagine the rewards coming your way! *smooch* (A face-grab is best followed up with a kiss.)
In closing, I’d like to sing this: “Oh, give me a home, where the small children roam, where the Barbie’s and toy horses play! Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the dishes stay dirty all day!”
I love you Mom. I love you Maria. Considered both of your faces grabbed!