Memories of Days Past With Grandchildren and Puff the Magic Dragon!

Twenty Beautiful Grandchildren and Puff!

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Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.  Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff, and brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail.  Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail.  Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came, pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name.

I have been blessed with twenty grandchildren – seventeen still living.  What joys they have all brought to my life!  I became an instant grandmother when I married my husband, Paul.  He was the proud grandfather of a little boy (4 years old) and a little girl (2 years old).

I remember the first time I met them.  Nervous about being a grandmother and not sure how they would receive me, I held out my arms to them and they thrilled me by quickly coming into my arms for a big hug.  Cheryl sat on my lap most of the evening and played with my pearl necklace.  By the time the evening was over, it was love for all three of us.  And a wonderful beginning to the role of grandmother!

Over the years my husband and I have celebrated the births of 18 more grandchildren.  Sadly, three of them did not live beyond the first couple years of life – but I treasure their memory in my heart.  I have shared the story of one of my granddaughters in my post – I Never Thought It Would Hurt This Much.

Each one has a unique personality.  Some are my biological grandchildren born to my own two daughters.  Others, while not my biological grandchildren, are still mine.  Born to my stepchildren (although we don’t use the word “step” to describe our relationship) they are mine by love.  Then there are my grandchildren who became part of our family by adoption.  While they carry none of my DNA and are even a different color than me, I fell in love with them and dare anyone to say they are not my grandchildren.  Some are tall (one grandson is 6′ 5″ and seems to never stop growing) and others are short.  They range in color from one granddaughter who is almost snow-white to a grandson that is as black as black can be.  But I love them all and thank God for the laughter and joy they have brought to us.

How I treasure those days when they were little and we played games on the floor, took walks through the park examining every flower and tree, sang silly songs, read books and played with imaginary characters.  Through their young eyes, I saw the magic of the world again.  The beauty of the snow, the thrill of a rainbow in the sky after a storm, the joy of feeling the soft spring rain on my face.  Through their imagination, I hid from the ghost, fought with the Ninja turtles, tossed food to Bernard the alligator that lived in our basement.

But grandchildren don’t stay little forever!

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A dragon lives forever but not so little boys.  Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.  One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more.  And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain.  Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.  Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave, so Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.

While the last verse of the song sounds so sad, I still enjoy my grandchildren who are now almost all young adults.  Our relationship is different, of course, but I enjoy hearing about their studies, their new careers, their hopes and dreams.  It is neat to relate to them more as adult to adult than adult to child.  What a joy to see them becoming strong, compassionate adults!  Now our games are scrabble, gin rummy and other card games and they enjoy trying to beat their grandparents.  Now we have serious discussions about politics and theology – but we still love to giggle at a crazy joke, a silly movie or a favorite comedian.

Still, I miss those times with Puff!

While most of the grandkids are young adults or fast becoming one, I’m so thankful for the little granddaughter I call the “grandchild of my old age.”  Zoe will be four years old very soon and these past four years have been such a joy as I have been able once more to visit that land of imagination and see the world anew through her eyes.

While I enjoy her for herself alone, I also relive the past years with my other grandchildren as I watch her explore and discover the world all around her just as they did.  Sometimes when she says or does something funny, my mind races back to another time, another grandchild.

I sometimes wish I could “freeze” her and hold her at this age a little longer, but she too is growing up.  Before I know it, it will be time for Puff to slip into his cave again.  But somehow realizing that these moments will not last forever, I enjoy them all the more.

So – for now – it’s Zoe and me and Puff the Magic Dragon

Long live Puff!

Remembering Jacobi Israel

Jacobi Israel – 10/18/12 – 1/10/13

He was born in a West African country.  His mother died shortly after his birth.  Grandmother brought him and his twin sister to an orphanage seeking help when she could no longer take care of them.

That is how he came into our lives.  What hopes and dreams we had as we began to support our daughter and her husband as they took the long road to adoption.

But it was not to be.  Before adoption could be completed, little Jacobi died.

How we hate the word “died.”  Even writing this, I tried to think of a better way to say it.  Being a Christian, I know all the answers we give.

  • He went to be with the Lord
  • He is in a better place
  • He is at rest

But the truth is, he died.

I never got to hold him in my arms, or even see him.  Still, somehow I miss him!

Being a Christian, I do have the hope that one day I will be able to hold him in my arms.

Until then, I remember you Jacobi Israel with love!

When a Stepson Becomes a Son

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 Oh my!  A teenage boy!

He was 15 when he came into my life.  A young widow with two young daughters, I knew nothing about raising little boys and certainly nothing about raising teenage boys.  But when I married my husband we had an agreement:  Take me – take my kids!

We started our journey together as friends.  He had a great sense of humor and was a  loving young man.  During the time his father and I were dating he would often come down to my house after school just to “hang out” with me and my daughters.  He loved to play board games, especially Monopoly.  I enjoyed his company and looked forward to being his mother.

Then I was married!

Suddenly I was a stepmother!  Spending a couple of hours three or four times a week with a young teenage boy is not the same as living with him 24/7.  Surprised and a little disappointed after a month under the same roof with this energetic male version of a teenager, I began to wonder if we could change our rule of “take me, take my kids!”

It wasn’t that I did not like the young man – it was just I did not know how to handle a teenage boy.  I know it is politically correct to say male and females are equal.  Equal – yes – the same – no.

How difficult is it to remember to take out the garbage?

It didn’t help that his father and I had totally different parenting styles.  My husband, Paul, was more “laid back” when it came to following the rules.  I was the “do it because I said to do it” kind of parent.

I assigned chores to both my girls and to Will, trying to be fair.  Wanting to be the “good” step-mother and win his love, I actually demanded less of him than I did my daughters.  One chore was to take out the garbage every week on the day of the garbage collection.  Week after week I would get so frustrated when I would discover after the kids went off to school he had not done that.  While taking the garbage cans out to the curb, I would mutter under my breath, “What is so hard about remembering this chore?”

When I would complain to his father – and his father to him – what would be his excuse?  “I forgot.”  Now beyond frustration – into full anger, I told his father there were ways to help him remember.  My suggestion:

Every time he “forgot,” he would have to give us the keys to the car he drove back and forth to school.  I assured my husband – a couple of weeks without the car, his memory would suddenly improve.

And miraculously it did!  We still laugh about this and a few years ago he called me to share that his son now seemed to have the same problem of forgetfulness.

He was not constantly behaving badly.  He and I just had a different idea of what it meant when on a Saturday morning I said, “Clean your room.”  My idea was he would immediately go clean his room.  His idea was he would play music, write a letter, take a walk and when he got around to it, he would clean his room.

We’ll never be mother and son – well “maybe”!

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I would be so frustrated and angry – sure that he and I would never be mother and son.  Then, he would come into the room and tell me a joke (and I would have to laugh) or share a song he felt certain I would love (and I would) or just want to talk to me in a serious manner sharing his fears, his hopes and dreams – and I would begin to feel the love and affection a mother has for her son.

But you’re not really my mother!

I think it was very hard for him also.  His mother was still living although she shared no part in his life.  So – he struggled with his feelings for me.  He also started our relationship as friends but as time passed, he began to feel love for me also.  Torn between the love he was beginning to experience toward me and the fear he felt that he should not let me take the place of his mother in his heart, he vacillated between reaching out in love to me and pushing me away.

So we danced!

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We danced back and forth in our relationship.  Feeling close, then feeling at odds with each other.  Enjoying our time together, hating our time together.  Feeling accepted by the other one, feeling rejected.  For a long time we did this little dance!

Shared experiences

  • He graduated from high school – I baked him a special cake. 
  • He went off to college – I helped him move into the dorm. 
  • He went into the USAF – I prayed for him.
  • My husband and I went to the Philippines as missionaries – he prayed for us. 
  • We moved to a new location when we returned and became pastors again – he helped us with the long distance move.
  • He married and began a family – I fell in love with “my” grandkids.
  • I got breast cancer – he dropped everything and came running with his wife to me.

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Somehow it happened!

During all those times of shared experiences, it happened!  He became “my” son.  Slowly, without really realizing it, he was mine!  I enjoyed his company, his sense of humor which I came to realize was just like his father’s.  In fact, as I came to know both my husband and my son better, I realized that Will was so like his father.  Will shared so many of the fine qualities that had attracted me to my husband.

Watching him with his wife, his children, I was so proud of the young man he was.

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He loves me too!

And somewhere along the way, he realized it was okay to love me as his mother.  He made me so happy the day he told me his wife reminded him of me – that he had seen a lot of my qualities in her.  There could not be a great compliment!

Now we dance a new dance!

How thankful I am that Paul and I agreed – “Take me – take my kids!”   It took commitment from both Will and myself to change this stepmother/stepson relationship into mother/son.  Because we were willing to keep trying to make our relationship work, because we were committed to be a family, to forgive each other’s mistakes and be patient with each other, we now dance a dance of love!

He’s OUR son!

When people who know this is a second marriage for me ask, “Whose son is Will?” I tell them “He’s OUR son!”

I’m so thankful I don’t have a stepson – I have a son!

 

 

 

 

Ten Terrific Gifts for Christmas – Perfect for Any Age!

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Two Christmas Catalogs

I recently shared about two different Christmas catalogs I received on the same day – and the big difference in what they were offering for Christmas gifts.

Hope you will read that – and then take a look at

Ten Terrific Gifts for Christmas

  1. For just $35 you can help bring a safe playground to a Compassion child development center.
  2. For just $40 you can help provide textbooks and learning materials that children can access at their child development center.
  3. For just $18 you can help a child prevent malaria with an insecticide-treated bed net, plus training for his or her family to avoid the mosquito bites that cause this disease.
  4. For just $79 you can help provide a safe water filtration system so that a family in poverty can have clean water.
  5. For just $100 you can provide a bicycle for a child in need, to ensure that he/she has a safe, efficient way to attend school.
  6. For just $30 you can ensure that a child receives immediate, physical spiritual, emotional support at a Compassion center while they wait to be sponsored.
  7. For just $42 you can provide chickens so that parents can become self-sufficient which leads to healthier children.
  8. For just $14 you can provide a mother and child with food and nutritional supplements, for one month helping ensure adequate weight and better health.  You can provide that care for an entire year for just $168.
  9. For $13 you can help a malnourished child with food and medicine in an area plagued by food shortage.
  10. For just $30 you can help fill the gap of critical, unexpected situations for children and their families registered with Compassion, including emergency medical care, support following disasters and protection from abuse.

Compassion, Inc.

Matthew 25:40 – And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Please go to Compassion.com/gifts and help meet a real need this Christmas.

 

I Never Thought It Would Hurt This Much!

Precious Hope

Precious Hope

 

 

 

 

I never thought it would hurt this much!

Almost two years ago my daughter and son-in-law began a journey to adopt twins.  Their mother had died shortly after giving birth.  Since there was no father in the picture, these little babies needed help if they were to survive.  My daughter and son-in-law reached out in love to provide that help.

As I looked forward to being a grandmother again, I imagined that when I first saw the twins my feelings would be those of any one who sees precious little babies.  I would feel compassion and warmth, even affection.  As the days and weeks passed, I envisioned that as I helped give them a bath, sang to them, rocked them to sleep, that warmth and affection would grow to be the love of a grandmother.

Then tragedy struck! 

Less than 3 months their birth, little Jacobi Israel died.  I was heart-broken then.  But my pain was for my daughter.  As I saw the sorrow and pain in her eyes, my heart ached for her.  As for me, I only felt regret for what would not be.

Then my daughter went to West Africa and actually spent time getting to know Precious Hope.  As I saw the pictures and the videos of Precious taking her first steps and heard her little voice making those first baby sounds, something happened that I did not expect.  I fell in love with that little girl – without ever singing to her, rocking her to sleep, holding her close to me.  She was my granddaughter!  There was not compassion and warmth in my heart – there was a grandmother’s love.  I could hardly wait until my daughter and son-in-law could bring her home to us.

Then tragedy struck! 

Almost a year from the death of Jacobi, little Precious died also.

I never thought it would hurt this much!

While I felt such sorrow for my daughter and son-in-law, my grief was for myself – for the granddaughter I almost had.  For all the dreams I had for her and me – dreams that would not happen now.

I suppose no one who has not walked down that scary, unpredictable road of adoption can understand my feelings.

Today Precious would have been two years old.  I thought today we would be celebrating her birthday.

I never thought it would hurt this much!

Although I will never hold her in my arms in this life – I still count her and Jacobi as my grandchildren and I look forward to the day I can embrace them and tell them how much I love

them!

I never thought it would hurt this much!