Musings of a Granddaughter

Isn’t it funny the things we remember from childhood? We weren’t big vacationers while I was growing up. Vacations, when we took them, consisted of piling into the car and driving cross country to visit Bubbie and Grandpap. They were my dad’s parents; hearty stock of Croatian descent. In fact, my grandfather came to this country in 1913. I recently found his naturalization certificate—he became a US citizen in 1926. I remember him as a tall man who towered over me. His naturalization certificate lists him at 5′ 7″. Milos was a handsome man. And kind. I see him in my mind’s eye laughing, always with a grandchild on his knee while others play around him.

I remember Bubbie, short and stout, in the kitchen, cooking for the family. High, sweet voice and a distinctive laugh that you can hear echoing in my own. Frances was a determined woman. Family lore has it that Milos wanted to marry Frances’ big sister, but she married someone else. So he married Frances. It worked out perfectly as she adored him. And she outlived him by more than 25 years.

You always knew what was important to Bubbie; walking into her sitting room, it was obvious by what hung on the walls: framed photos of the Pope, President John F. Kennedy, and every single grandchild and great grandchild—and there were dozens and dozens of them! I am proud to be one of them…and look forward to the day when I become a Bubbie, short for “stutta bubba,” which my grandfather told me is Croatian for “old woman.”

Today, I honor my Bubbie. This marks the 6th anniversary of her passing. We’re not exactly sure how old she was she when died, but we think it was 103; most certainly over 100. At least I know I come from hearty stock and will be around for a long time, doing what I can to transform age and experience from liabilities to assets.

Godspeed, Bubbie. I love you and thank you for life.

Let Us Honor Death with Life

We are entering a season of rebirth, and yet, I often find myself thinking about death these days. This month and next mark the anniversaries of the passing of five people I have loved, including my mother and father. Two more family members died just this month. As I contemplate that, and the climbing death toll in Japan, I feel that a part of me has died, too.

My mother was a Buddhist and taught me that death is not the end of life; rather, it is the end of the body we inhabit in this life—and that our spirit remains. Some days that comforts me and I can even feel my loved ones near me. I call them my Holy Ones. Other days, I cannot feel them…and feel utterly alone. And then I remember what my dad—raised a Catholic—taught me. Daddy told me that even when people we love die, they are still with us—they are inside us. All I need do is look in the mirror and I can see this is true. I have my mother’s eyes, hair and skin. And when I look deep within myself, I see my mother’s dignity and grace. I see my father’s love of language and humor and sense of community. My parents live inside me.

But even those with whom I did not share genes are within me. When they passed, they bequeathed to me things more valuable than worldly goods. They left behind the best parts of themselves. Lexi left me love, faith and courage. Andi left me compassion and possibility. Ann left me fidelity and sweetness. Now, it’s up to me to ensure these parts of them live on forever through me. So I pledge to carry on these parts of my Holy Ones: I will be love, faith and courage. I will be compassion and possibility. I will be fidelity and sweetness.

In the face of death and destruction, the best we can do for those who pass before us—whether we are related or not—is to live in such a way that they continue in us. Will you join me in that?

I send you my love, peace and prayers.

Tiny Delights

“Most of us miss out on life’s big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we’re all eligible for life’s small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. A crackling fire. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold Beer. Don’t fret about copping life’s grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us.”

~Harry Gray, Chairman of United Technologies

I love this quote from Harry Gray!  How often I find myself going for the next big thing or going for perfection…when if only I’d stop and breathe and be fully in the moment, I would find beauty and goodness right where I am.  Isn’t it interesting how we’ve become so conditioned to go for bigger, better, faster, more…and after a while—somewhere on the road to burn-out—we forget why that seemed like such a good idea in the first place?

I’m not saying don’t go for the next level or strive for excellence, but take time to enjoy the ride.  I have earned some of those ‘grand awards’ to which Mr. Gray refers—seven Emmy awards, in fact—and I’m very proud of those achievements.  However, they pale in comparison to the first time my daughter laughed out loud when she was a baby or the first time my son called me “mama.”

The older I get, the more I appreciate those tiny delights.  I’ve actually come to look for them in my day and make it a practice to write out at least five of them before bed each night.  Today’s tiny delights:  1) Waking to the sound of rain on my window, 2) spending some one-on-one time with my son this afternoon, 3) driving right into a parking spot at lunch (I love good parking mojo!), 4) an unexpected phone call from my sweetheart in the afternoon, and 5) listening to my cat as he sits on my lap, purring, in this very moment.  Life’s small pleasures.  I cherish them!

What are your tiny delights?  Your big prizes?  I would love to hear about both!