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Archive for October, 2017

Ode to Addie

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.  Socrates

Why fit in when you were born to stand out!  Dr. Seuss

. . . be joyous and romping full force toward what you want!  Abraham-Hicks

It was a warm June morning in Moscow Idaho when Addie took off down Main Street full throttle.  She cocked her head to one side, raised the other shoulder, let out a high-pitched steady shriek and skidaddled as fast as her pink-sneakered feet would carry her — past the art gallery and the rock shop and the outdoor store, straight ahead in a bee-line for the fountain.  It was a moment to behold, a moment of high velocity pig-tail-flying joy.  And I her Grandma Helen witnessed it as I scrambled to catch up with this out-of-my-grip toddler.  A while later, while the two of us sat on a bench, drinking our smoothies, a grandpa-aged man approached us and gleefully pointed at Addie.  “I heard you, young lady!  You keep it up!  We need to hear voices like yours!”  And to me, he said, “Isn’t it the best?!?”

It is the best, an honor I hold dear, to hang out with the young people in my life.  Our two sons and their families live in the same town in northern Idaho, so, on visits west, I drink up an over-the-top healthy dose of grandparent immersion.  And claiming time with a two-year-old is about as fun and funny as it gets.  On mornings after her parents have left for work at the university, Addie and I prepare for our day of play.  When I was a girl, a highlight of my grandparent visits was knocking on the guest room door, and being invited in to watch my grandmother dress each morning.  It seemed exotic to me, the rituals of my grandmother, the way she carefully braided her long salt-and-pepper colored hair, powdered and perfumed her body, slipped into layer after layer of silken underclothes and a loose-fitting patterned dress.  I loved this waking up time with my grandmother, and remember it more clearly than anything else about her.  I’m astounded that I have now switched roles, am the grandmother being watched by the young granddaughter.  And I’m equally astounded that this ritual seems as exciting and as sacred to Addie as it once did to me.  We lay out my clothes on the guest room bed — the sparkle skirt is her favorite — and I slip into the sport bra and tank top and leggings with a lot less fanfare than my grandmother did with her mindful motions.  It’s the preening after the dressing, however, that really stirs Addie’s juices, the hands-on part, literally sticking her hands into the container of Grandma’s lotion and smearing it on her little arms and legs and face.  I wonder if I too was not just an appreciative observer of my grandmother’s rituals, but an active participant like Addie.  For Addie, lotion-smearing is right up there with skidaddling along Main Street toward the fountain and throwing pennies into the stirred-up water and drinking a green smoothie through a straw when the pennies have all been thrown.

In Addie’s world, the day begins with an enthusiastic “yes” and the “yeses” keep on coming!  Whether it is shoveling food into her mouth — she loves to eat! — or racing down the driveway on her pink kick-bike or running across the lawn with her five-year-old cousin Viren who has brought her into a game of police and robbers, Addie thrusts herself full-force and forward into her living.  Her strong bold color strokes and unique dance-moves reflect this exuberance for life.  And it is contagious, this exuberance.  I find myself joining in as she and I drive from her home in the woods up and down the country roads past wheat and lentil fields into town each day.  Our voices rise into a shout as we call out our observations.  “Little white house!”  “Big red barn!”  “Bird in the sky!”  “Horses on the hill!”  “Tall green tree!”  I’m not just playing along.  I’m genuinely excited.  I find myself wide-eyed and eager, ready for the next ordinary extraordinary “something” around the corner.  One car ride in particular stands out as a highlight among highlights.  It was late afternoon, and both Viren and Addie were sitting buckled in their car seats in the back of Grandma’s rental.  Viren had just finished a story about Lego Batman and it was Addie’s turn.  She said it to us, “Addie’s turn!”  And then she began her litany of likes.  “Addie likes Mommy.  Addie likes Dada.  Addie likes cousin Viren. . . ”  She named us all.  But she didn’t stop with family and friends.  She wanted a long turn because she had a lot to say.  “Addie likes trees.  Addie likes houses.  Addie likes Whiskers kitty.  Addie likes yellow.”  I felt as though her list could go on forever; there are that many “likes” in Addie’s world.

I pushed the save button that afternoon.  I don’t want to forget how good it feels to shout out appreciations to the world as you pass it by, to not pass it by at all, but, instead, to soak it in like a toddler does.  I don’t want to forget how good it feels to listen to a litany of “likes”, how good it feels to come up with your own list — on a daily basis.  Baby Aila, Viren’s little sister who is a few months old, made it onto Addie’s “like” list that afternoon in the car, and, when Addie is in the presence of her baby cousin, she lights up, gently touching Baby Aila’s face or hands.  And now, within a matter of days, Addie’s baby brother will be born and I’m sure of it, that Baby Brother will make it onto Addie’s list of likes.  I also was two when my baby brother was born, a few months older than Addie is now.  My grandparents came to stay with us and I remember that they brought candy and a box of cookies.  And I remember that my father walked with us, my older siblings and me, to the hospital in our neighborhood, remember that it was a brick building, that my mother held the baby up in a second story window for us to see from the grass below, that we had ice cream on the way home.  And I remember sitting on the radiator in our home eating the cookies.  I wonder if I too was exuberant with my likes.  “I like my Grandma and Grandpa.”  “I like my mama and daddy.”  “I like cookies and ice cream.”  “I like my baby brother.”   Addie is my toddler teacher and I certainly feel it now.

 

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Addie at two: August and September, 2017

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Treasure

Resources of abundance are raining down on you always.  Abraham-Hicks

Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him/her.  Paulo Coelho

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.  Paulo Coelho

There’s something about the promise of treasure that keeps us digging.  When I was a child, the digging was literal.  My younger brother and I were certain of it, that somewhere in that crack of a cove between the Fourth of July Rocks and Sister Point, the one on our coastal Maine property that was called Deadman’s Cove, there was a treasure buried under the rocks and shells and piles of blown-in seaweed.  Although we didn’t flesh out the details of the before-story, it had something to do with pirates and the dead man who we imagined was the namesake for the tiny inlet and a classic fairy-tale chest of riches stashed ashore for safe-keeping.  So, on many a summer morning, as we made our way out for a picnic lunch on Pretty Rock and an exploration of the tide pools at Sister Point’s tip, we clamored down the granite ledge to the shell-strewn bit of beach at Deadman’s Cove in the hopes that this would be the lucky one, the summer day when we would uncover it, our personal treasure.

And fifty years later, I guess I’m still digging for tangible hands-on riches, this time for treasure I think might be buried in my very own house.  When our two boys were toddlers, they inherited from their dad a gold mine of miniature toy cars from the sixties, the kind of cars that grandparents buy you for Christmas, fancier, sturdier and far more cool than the Matchbox set that I carefully tucked in my little plastic case.  There was an MG, an ambulance with doors that opened, station wagons and trucks and sport cars — and there was a Batmobile, my husband’s favorite, one he had purchased himself when the television show Batman hit the airways.  Our boys adored this canvas bag of cars.  As tiny toddlers, they lined them up on their grandparents’ patio wall in Grand Rapids, and, later, when the cars traveled north with us to our home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the boys played with them for hours on the imaginary highways and farmlands and neighborhood streets of our living room carpet.  These cars were a treasure, a treasure I intended to pass down to the next generation.  And, it was when our older son and his wife announced that they were going to have baby, our first grandchild, that I remembered my stashed treasure and started digging for what I thought would be an easy jackpot.  That was six years ago this autumn, and, alas, I am still digging and they have remained as elusive as the pirate chest of riches in Deadman’s Cove.  I have looked all over this house for these gems from the sixties, in the obvious places, and, in the dark corners of the basement, have dug through boxes and pried open suitcases.  I am almost positive that I did not give these cars away  — why would I?!? — and I remain hopeful that I will retrieve my pirate’s bounty.

In fact, a week ago, I dreamed of the cars.  I think it was because Viren, our five-year-old grandson, and a passionate lover of cool-driving vehicles and everything Batman, was visiting.  I told him about my dream, how I woke up happy and filled with wonderment.  You see, in the dream, I found the cars, all of them, including the Batmobile, hauled them out of their hiding place and into the light of day and play.  It was a moment to behold.  And although my waking self could not remember the X that had marked the treasure’s spot, the dream had brought them alive for me again, so vividly alive that I resumed the search that next evening.  It was after Grandpa Cam had gone to bed that Viren and I plopped ourselves down on the carpeted floor of the upstair’s hall closet, a small walk-in where we keep our linens and suitcases and a few stray boxes.  I knew from past searches that the bag of cars was not among these items, but I was holding out hope for the Batmobile — and so was Viren.  I remembered that there was a box pushed underneath the shelving that was labeled with Viren’s father’s name, and perhaps, just perhaps, that treasure among treasures, the Batmobile, was tucked inside it among the other artifacts from our son’s youth.  So the two of us dragged the dusty treasure box out from its hiding place and into the middle of the closet floor, opened its lid, and began our exploration.

The box was filled to the brim, with a plastic bag of copper coins and another of shells from Florida, with a pottery mug that was once a Christmas present and another smaller wooden box that Viren’s dad had made in school, with a metal turkey won in a Thanksgiving Day running race and a fossil discovered on a family trip out west, all treasures, I’m sure, to a younger version of Viren’s dad — and treasures to us too as we examined each item during our archeological dig.  And when we reached to the bottom of the box, there was no Batmobile in sight.  But there was something else, something intriguing, a stack of about fifteen handmade books, lying there waiting for this moment, a gift from the past, from Viren’s dad at eight-years-old to his son crouched now beside me.  We laughed out loud as we perused these books, admiring the art, reading the stories.  Some were books that he had written at school, probably in second grade, and others he had created at home on recycled paper, bound with masking tape.  For Viren, it must have been pure wonderment, to witness his father as a boy not much older than himself, a boy who loved monsters and superheroes as much as he does now, a boy who created a giant cat named Cathra with powers strong enough to ward off Godzilla and a punk-haired alien who managed to get along just fine without a Batmobile or canvas bag of awesome cars.  And for me, it was pure preciousness, to giggle along with my grandson who was lit up with it all, and to see, with fresh eyes and a huge dose of admiration, the creativity and humor and charm of his wonderful father.

I think that I was the one who suggested making the phone call, but it was Viren who exclaimed that the car was the perfect place for us to talk to his dad who was miles and miles away in Idaho.  And he was right.  Under a nighttime of stars, after a five-year-old’s usual bedtime, with the car turned on in the driveway, and both of us sitting unbuckled in the front seats, we talked right into Grandma’s car’s marvelous speaker system, right through the miles and through the years to Viren’s dad about this treasure we had discovered from his childhood.  Viren’s enthusiasm filled the airwaves and his dad’s laughter responded as he remembered the books that he had written and illustrated so long ago . . . Our hands were never empty as my brother and I traipsed back over the rocks and through the huckleberry and balsam paths toward the cottage after our jaunts to the point.  There were stray buoys some days and long strands of dried kelp.  There were tiny orange and yellow periwinkles and sea moss for our mother’s pudding recipe.  There were treasures to behold and memories to hold onto and the deliciousness of the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there really was a treasure chest in Deadman’s Cove.  I haven’t given up on the cars, am still holding onto the possibility that I will find this canvas bag some day, and yet, in this moment, my hands are full, full of treasure, full of the knowing that Viren and I dug up pure gold last week and that the two of us shared this golden moment with his appreciative dad.

 

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The treasure we found in the closet: Viren’s dad’s books, circa 1987/8.

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