Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Contrasts - and Joy

First - my hollyhocks, from two years ago (full disclosure). They actually grow taller than the housetop, although this year they seem to be coming up on the other side of the steps. Watch this space....

Second - NOTICE * NOTICE * NOTICE! I've learned from other bloggers that next Saturday, June 9, 2007 is:


For some of us, every day is KIP Day, but apparently this is a Movement, a Happening, a Statement. I encourage any and all to go forth, needles akimbo, and find a very public spot to ply those needles.

However, barring that, take whatever you have on the needles at the moment and hang around outside a drugstore or sit in the window at your local coffee shop; choose a bookstore or bus shelter, somewhere on campus if you have one -- be creative! I myself will be with dear friends in the enchanted village of Fairfield, Iowa celebrating the 60th Wedding Anniversary of two of them. If that's not a Magical Festivity nothing is, and as the bride is the best knitter I know, I'm sure I will be able to convince her to join me in a little public knitting. I can hardly believe it : June 2007 must be my Month of Extraordinary Weekends.

So, how magical was it, Grandma Dale? Ooooh, my dears, it was wonder wrapped in delight balanced on laughter surrounded by poignancy.

Saturday....started out rainy, but cleared up as we made our way to the home of my second grandson, C, which is near Lake Koshkonong (we Wisconsinites can pronounce words like that in a very musical way -- ask me how to say "Oconomowoc"). I was very excited, but managed to work on the Old Shale scarf on the way. The Husband, Mr. Navigator, was armed with a little map he made up from on-line directions. (Let it be known, I'm dismal with navigating - I once got hopelessly lost with a block-by-block Triptik.) We found ourselves in an area of very nice houses, some used as summer residences by folks from ... south of here.

When we arrived C himself met us at the door; his folks had run to the store, to return imminently. After a somewhat awkward greeting, I asked him if he'd be interested in seeing some pictures of himself as a baby. Can you imagine how embarrassing that might be for a 17-year-old? But he was good-natured and interested. I pointed out especially the pictures taken in my living room (sixteen and seventeen years ago) and special favorites like the one where I had him in the backpack carrier. He rolled his eyes and groaned - I've had teenagers, I know that's teenspeak for "Man, is that every cool, Grandma!" I don't know what he'll call me - I readily answered to "Hey" as in "Hey, you want something to drink?" but we'll figure that out at some point in the future.

When the folks came home we turned on the oven and popped in the rumaki. NOTE: when I'd asked the Mom if we could bring anything she said "Oh man, yeah, you used to make those water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, remember? Could you bring those, I've never been able to make them as good as you did." The Husband had made up a LOT of them, put them on two broiler pans and we took them along to cook there. Those things are much better right out of the oven. NOTE again: I marinate the water chestnuts in soy sauce with brown sugar stirred in for an hour or more before wrapping the bacon around. NOTE the third: I know, what's a nice Jewish girl using bacon for? Well....I'm more of an ethnic Jew, and I love bacon, so I call it "zebra" like an Israeli friend used to. I love me those ZLT sandwiches. Just sayin'.

Shortly thereafter DIL #1 came with her two boys, who are, in fact, C's half-brothers. They're five and three years old and didn't have any idea of C; C knew he had two little half-brothers. I'd hoped Number One Son would come along but he had to work (and may have had some anxieties about it -- ).

The weather cleared up and the afternoon was spent in pleasant conversation, and watching the little boys run through the sprinkler and sliding on a long piece of plastic on the hill on the side yard. There was a moment where C was chasing the little boys (his little brothers!) with a water-shooter and all three were laughing and running and I have to tell you, it was the sort of scene that brought tears of joy to my eyes. We left at the end of the afternoon, and all three of the boys hugged and kissed me before we went. (Sunday we saw the DIL briefly at the other grandson's graduation; she had taken pictures which she showed me, including one of the three boys sitting together on the step. Can you imagine what that picture means to me? I'll pay for copies....) To be reconnected with that child is a rare pleasure and I look forward to being available to him, to answer questions, to relate his heritage on my side, to provide support and friendship to him. I whispered to him on the phone last week that I will be a confidante for him, that gripes, brags, fears, angers - told to me - will stop with me. I reminded him of the Native American wisdom: The Creator gave me two ears and one mouth. I will hear much and speak little. I hope I can gain his trust as I am most earnest in that.

I recognized in him the mannerisms and movements of his-father-my-son; I recognize in HIM the mannerisms and movements of HIS father, my husband. My Willie of blessed memory would be proud of this boy, proud of his decisions. I told him so.

And when I got up - it was Sunday, the day for Grandson #1's graduation. This is my grandson N. The last time I'd seen him was a year ago, on the day of his junior prom. He'd asked his mother if he could come over to see me before going to the dance...and that was the first time I'd seen him since he was three years old. We wrapped up two books we'd gotten for him last August, books about New France, about the Fur Trade, which he'd expressed some interest in. We wrapped them in old maps, which we thought very appropriate as he was heading out on a new life path. (Oh - we always wrap presents in old maps, since the Husband had worked for AAA and got buckets of discontinued maps - why throw them away, they make verrah verrah nice wrapping paper!) We also wrote a nice Graduation Card and put some money in it, after I read in the newspaper that money is always a welcome and appropriate gift for the Graduate. And I wrote him a mushy note from a Proud and Loving Grandma....it's my prerogative, deal with it.

The graduation ceremony was indoors as rain had threatened; we met the Lovely Daughter there and found seats after talking to N's mother - she invited us to go back to her mother's house after for a light luncheon - "N does NOT want a party!" There were 8,657 graduates...no, no. Just seemed like it as they filed in. There were in fact something like 300, though. I stood on tiptoe trying to see him as he filed past, and JUST at the right moment, Mr. Giganto Person standing in front of me raised his arm and rested his hand on his head, effectively blocking my view of the graduates, including N. Who does that???

Well, ok, so we sat down and watched the ceremony. It was an excellent one, I must say, with clever speeches by the Honors students, a nice musical interlude, and the reading of names as diplomas were handed out. There was a list of all the names on our programs so we could see where we were, and honestly? It didn't seem to take as long as it might have. After all, every single person in that room was just bursting with love and pride for one of the kiddos, and it just made for very good Vibes in that packed gymnasium.

Afterward the graduates went outside, stood in a semicircle and did the ritual Tossing Up of the Mortarboards, which they all scrambled to recover since they'd had to pay for them (!) Then there was some standing around and milling and picture-taking, and then we went over to the Other Grandma's house.

It's one of those very nice large new houses, with high ceilings, skylights, open floor plans - big deck, double garage - we think of them as mcmansions. The OG (other grandma) had a perfect spread for the occasion: coldcuts, little buns, potato salad and some of that three-bean salad stuff which I LOVE. She had the usual mustard and mayonnaise and (oh THANK YOU!) horseradish sauce! Very yummy - we're unpretentious here in Wisconsin. I loved seeing N's mother and some of her old friends, her mother and stepdad, the "old crowd". I did so enjoy watching my grandson with his family, his other siblings - and us, his grandmother, stepgranddad and the aunt he hasn't seen since he was a baby.

He fell into conversation with his Aunt Lovely Daughter and they found a mutual interest (PASSION) for all things Japanese so far as manga, anime and sushi. They talked non-stop - interrupted briefly while N opened some graduation presents, including a lovely laptop {o goody I'll be able to e-mail him!}. Then he sought out Auntie Lovely again, and we were finally able to draw her away only after they exchanged all possible connections and assurances of meeting soon, perhaps over sushi, to discuss the various qualities of various anime.

He has a summer job and is starting college at an excellent state school - far enough from home to be "away" and close enough to bring his dirty underlinens home to Mom now and then.

And the OG told me that he's mentioned me through the years, and is now very earnest in keeping in touch, in getting answers to questions he's harbored and connections for which he's yearned. (He was very pleased to learn that his Auntie Lovely hates green beans too......)

So! Two grandsons. One is brown, adorable, bright, and headed for the Marine Corps. One is white, adorable, bright, and headed for college. And here, nestled happily in the warm arms of Wisconsin, is an ecstatic, delighted, little short Bubbeh who couldn't be more proud of them both.


Jane said...

Oh, what a lovely story! And how lucky you are to have two such fine grandsons. Family can cause such happiness and tears, and it's nice to see that your visit was full of smiles.

Chris said...

What a great story!! :)

Elizabeth said...

Lovely account of your time with grandkids!

I'm jealous of your hollyhocks.

Let me know if you have any specific questions about bloggy stuff. I'm not an expert, but I know a couple tricks.

Joy said...

Sitting here grinning from ear to ear with misty eyes. How utterly delightful. Thank you so much for sharing your family with us this way!

Flymaine said...

Those Zebras sound yummy! I am a very bad vegan who regularly falls off the vegan wagon for apple smoked bacon and Eggs Benedict! Great story and beautiful Holly Hocks!!