My New Knees are Coming!

As I age, I am battling “Old Man Arthritis.”  Some days when I get out of bed I can hardly walk.  After a trip to the bathroom and then to the kitchen for my cup of coffee (which my husband always has ready for me), I began to lose some of the stiffness and I am ready to face the day.

Sitting down on the floor is almost an impossibility.  I can get down okay but the getting up is a killer.  Having a four-year-old granddaughter who loves for Grandma to play with her makes things a little difficult.  After struggling several times to get back up, I have finally explained to her that we will have to play on the coffee table or the kitchen counter, that Grandma cannot get on the floor with her.

At first, she was puzzled when I said I could not get on the floor because I could not get back up.

“See – Grandma.  I’ll show you how.”

Saying this, she quickly sat on the floor and then proceeded to show me how to push up with my hands and get back up.

“Sweetheart, Grandma knows how to get up.  I simply cannot get up.”

Explaining to her that my knees simply are getting old and do not work right, I could see the wheels turning in her little mind.

When we sat down for the meal, she wanted to pray over our food.

“Jesus, make Grandma’s knees feel better.”

A few days later she was taking a walk with her mother.

Mommy, someday God is going to make us new bodies.  Grandma will get new knees and they will work right.

Yes, Zoe, someday this old body will not be stiff and painful any more and Grandma will be able to run and sit with you on the floor!

Until then, I’m thankful for a little granddaughter that already knows how to pray and already is concerned about her grandmother.

I’m not quite ready to get my new body – still want to see that little girl grow up.  But sometimes when the pain and stiffness are great, I do think how great it will be when I get my new knees!

 

 

 

Becoming an Old Woman – How Did That Happen?

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Several years ago my daughter brought me a book of poems and reflections on growing old.  When she gave it to me she assured me she did not think I was old – but she thought I would enjoy looking at my mother’s world (since my mother was old).

Too quickly the years have passed.  My mother is now deceased (how strange that sounds) and I AM becoming the old woman in the family.

I laughed when I first read this poem.  I still laugh – but I relate to it so much more than I did when she gave it to me.

So – for all my “old lady friends” I want to share this poem by Jenny Joseph.

Warning

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

So – friend if you see me in purple with a red hat – know that I am an old woman for sure!

From Irish to French?

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Searching for the past!

When I was in junior high we had an assignment to find out our family’s background – what nationality made up our family tree.  My parents did not have a lot of information to share, but Dad said his mother’s family was Irish and his father’s family German.  Mother was not very clear about her father’s side of the family.  He was an orphan and never shared much about his family.  She never met any of his parents, siblings, aunts or uncles.  What little she knew was that there was some Indian ancestry there.  Mother said her mother’s side was English.

More Irish!

Recently I received some genealogy research from one of my mother’s cousins tracing my grandmother’s family back several generations.  I was so excited when I found that my great-great grandfather was not English, but Scot-Irish!

Of all my grandparents the only one who really showed any interest in me was my father’s mother – the Irish grandma.  She was a red-head and I am also.  She loved that I was a red-head and that I looked like her side of the family – the Tates.  Because she made me feel loved and proud of my red hair, I have always felt a connection to that Irish heritage and always loved anything Irish.

Knowing that red hair is a recessive gene and required that both my parents pass on the gene for red hair in order for me to be a red-head, I knew someone in the past on my mother’s side had red hair.  But I was so excited to find out that only a few generations back was an Irish gentleman.  So now I can thank not only my Grandma Tate but my great-great Grandpa “Paddy” Wilson for my red hair.  (Fiery Red-heads Have More Fun!)

But French?

I was excited to find that second Irish connection, but surprised to find that my ancestors were also French.  My great-great Grandpa Wilson married a French lady.  And it appears of all my ancestors I have traced so far it is the French connection that is the most interesting.

The Boudinots were Huguenots who fled France after King Louis XIV revoked the decree of Nante and began religious persecution of Protestants.  From France they immigrated to England for a short period and then on to North America, arriving just in time to be a part of our early history as a new nation.   I’m just beginning to learn more about these French ancestors but it appears they were involved closely with the birth of the USA.  Since I am a history nut and have read everything I can find on our founding fathers and mothers, it is so “neat” to find that some of my ancestors were closely involved in that history.

So who cares?

I realize that in one sense it doesn’t really matter who my great-great-great-great grandfather was – yet as I age, I find it more and more important that we do not forget our past.

What other surprises await?

I have traced enough on my Grandmother Smith’s side to feel no more surprises – it’s Irish/French.  But a mystery remains on my Grandfather Smith’s side.  The only sibling of my mother still alive told me I should not try to trace that side of the family.  He was very mysterious as to why I should not.  Research so far does appear there may be a secret there.  But what?

So – what is your heritage?  What interesting stories does your family tree have?

 

 

Fiery Red-heads Have More Fun!

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Growing up as a red-head I soon grew tired of all the comments:

  • Where did she get her red hair?  My parents were always asked this since they both had dark hair and my siblings all had brown or black hair.
  • And my Dad’s response to people’s questions on where I got my red hair – “She stood out in the rain and her hair rusted.”
  • Is that your natural hair color?
  • Being told what you can and can’t wear gets annoying.  For years I was told I should not wear red.  I loved the color and it was not until I was in my late 20’s that I decided to wear what I wanted to wear.  To my surprise, I found that I look fine in red!
  • Hey carrot top!
  • Hey red!
  • Hey firetop!
  • One young boy made my life miserable for a while by chanting every time I came around, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head.”
  • I bet you have a temper!
  • Are you Irish?

So for the first few years of my life, I hated being a red-head.  Then I discovered what a rare group I belong to (only 1-2% of humans in the world have red hair) and I have loved being a red-head ever since.  When my pastor husband and I attended conferences, he said it was great having a wife with red hair.  When the meetings broke up and everyone was trying to find their wife in the crowd, he just looked for the red-head – and there I was.  It also made it easy when someone would ask him, “Which one is your wife?”  Simple answer – “The red-head.”

My two sisters had dark blonde and brown hair.  Years later when we would meet someone who knew our family in the past, they always would remember me – “the little red-head” even if they did not remember my sisters.  (I think they may have hated that.)

My paternal grandmother had red hair (and Irish ancestry).  I was one of the last grandkids born in the family so by the time I was a young girl, Grandma was losing her sight.  When we would visit, she would always have me stand in the doorway where the sun would strike my hair and she could see my long red banana curls (yes, I had banana curls).  I think more than anything else seeing Grandma’s pride in me made me feel very special and love the idea of being a red-head.  As I have grown older, I have wanted to learn more about my Irish ancestry.  Think researching that will be my next item on my “bucket list” in retirement.

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Learning more about red-heads I discovered:

  • Red-heads have influenced history out of proportion to their numbers.  Famous red-heads include King David, Helen of Troy, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Napoleon Bonaparte, Antonio Vivaldi, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill – and of course Lucy (although she was a “fake” red-head).
  • Russian tradition declares that red hair is both a sign that a person holds a fiery temper and craziness.   A Russian Proverb warns “There was never a saint with red hair.”
  • Mark Twain said, “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, red-heads are descended from cats.”
  • We are a big hit in the wizarding world!

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  • We have the most beautiful Disney princess!

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Some “facts” I’m not sure are true, but they certainly are interesting.

  • Medieval Romanians believed red-heads turned into vampires when they died.
  • Hitler is reported to have wanted red-heads killed so that they could not produce “degenerate children”.
  • The witch-hunting manual from medieval Europe, Malleus Maleficarum, instructed that red hair and green eyes were marks of a witch.  (Thankfully my eyes are brown.)
  • And I found there is a study done in Hamburg, Germany and another in England that claimed women with red hair had sex more often.  (Not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.)

One question I used to be asked a lot was “Is that your real color?”  No one asks that now – guess that’s because they assume that anyone my age who still has red hair must being using Miss Clairol.  However, some brave souls do ask me, “Is that the color your hair used to be?”

Well – I don’t use hair dye – I use a wig!  After 16 rounds of chemo when battling my breast cancer, I lost my hair.  When it grew back, it was still red but very, very thin.  After a couple of years of hoping I would regain the thick head of hair I first had, I gave up and popped on a wig.

Yes, my wig is the same color that my hair used to be.  Sometimes I think I should buy a grey wig since I’m well past the age of natural red hair.  But one thing my husband really loved about me when we got married was my red hair.  So – taking the teasing chant the little boy used to taunt me with, I have changed it from, ‘I’d rather be dead than red on the head” to “I will be red until I’m dead.”

Brunettes may be smarter, blondes may have more fun, but nothing beats the intrigue and fascination of being a red-head.

Thank you Grandma Tate Sechrest for my red hair!!!

Say “Yes” or Say “No”

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Grandchildren are such a joy!  But they grow up way too fast!

I keep a journal writing down the funny things they say and do so I will never forget them.  The journal is growing rapidly since the birth of my youngest granddaughter, Zoe.

Say “Yes” or say “No”

Taking Zoe for a walk along the Mississippi River, Zoe recognized that we were very close to the John Deere Pavilion.  She loves to go there and climb and “drive” all the tractors on display.  She asked me if we could go there after our walk.  I told her to ask her Papa, so she did.  He told her he would have to think about it.  After taking another three to four steps, she looked up at him and in a very serious voice she told him, “Say yes or say no.”

My feet stink!

She loves to take a bath when she comes to our house (it really is just play time with all her bath toys).  Recently when I told her there would be no bath today, she informed me, “I need a bath.  My feet stink.”  Then, to make sure I realized how much she needed the bath, she stuck her little feet up to my face and said, “Smell them!”

We are amazing!

While playing with me one day at our house, her mother called to see how things were going.  I told her, “Your mother wants to know how you are.”  She, without hesitation, said, “I’m amazing!”  Then she smiled at me and said, “You’re amazing too!”  So there you have it folks – from a little child’s mouth – I’m amazing!

 

 

Her First Halloween

 

Her First Halloween

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Although I have 20 grandchildren, only one lives close to me and she is the youngest at 3 1/2 years old.  Needless to say, I spoil her!

I am so happy that I was able to share her first trick or treat adventure two years ago.  Dressed as a little bumblebee, we started off with her carrying a small stuffed bumblebee while I carried a plastic pumpkin for her treats.  As we approached the first house you could see she was not sure what was actually going on.  Her mother and I encouraged her to say “trick or treat” to the young woman who answered the door.

I held out the plastic pumpkin and she watched with great interest as the young woman deposited some candy into it.  We told her to say “Thank you.”  It came out “Tank you.”

As we started to walk back down the driveway, she suddenly stopped.  First she looked at me – then at the pumpkin in my hand – down at the bumblebee in her hand – back to the pumpkin which now held candy.

She held out the bumblebee in her hand to me and reached for the pumpkin.  Clearly she had decided holding the plastic pumpkin was a much better deal than holding the bumblebee!

By the time we made it up and down the next driveway, she was asking, “More?”  After a few more houses, she was an old pro holding out the pumpkin, saying “Trick or treat” and then “Tank you!”

This year she is a Ninja turtle – and growing up so fast!  I know there will be many more Halloween evenings and many more costumes.

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But I will ALWAYS treasure that first Halloween and I am so thankful I have those memories!

Our “Gentle Giant”

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Me and my “walking stick”

 

 

 
Today is the birthday of one of my grandsons, Matthew.  Remembering when he was born, I always stop and thank God that he is here with us.  Shortly after Matthew was born, they had to send him by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.  His lungs were not developed enough and he was placed in NICU.  They told us

“IF he makes it through the night, his chances to live will go up.  However, he will probably always be weak and ‘puny’.”

I still remember my daughter and son-in-law’s faces as the ambulance crew came in the room to take Matthew away.  The pain and fear in their faces were beyond description.  While I was so worried as the grandmother, I cannot begin to imagine what they must have felt.

My son-in-law, Rob, is a St. Louis Blues hockey fan.  When their first two children came home from the hospital, they were wearing St. Louis Blues shirts.  When Rob realized Matthew would not be staying at the same hospital as his mother and would be at a hospital several miles from us all, he brought a hockey puck and asked if he could leave that with Matthew.  I thought my heart would break, as I saw him lift the incubator curtain placed over Matthew’s crib to place the hockey puck close by his side.

He made it!

As my husband loves to say, “It’s not over until God says it’s over,”  Matthew not only made it through the night, he has grown up to be anything but weak and puny.  Standing at over 6′ 7″ tall, he is a giant of a man.  Strong and not one to mess with, yet he has a gentle way about him with little kids and his grandma.  Because of his kind ways to me, I began thinking of him as a “gentle giant.”   That is also the name his mother’s students have given him.  He has several times helped his mother with recess and special events for her kindergarten and first grade students.  They love this “giant” of a man who is so gentle and kind with them.

Today, I remember:

  1. As a baby, he had beautiful blond curls.  When he was two years old, I went running to the car as his parents pulled into our driveway after a drive of several hundred miles to visit us.  I opened the door of the car where he was sitting and was shocked to find the blond curls gone.  My “little” baby was gone and in his place was a little boy.  I cried a little.
  2. The “miracle” he experienced when he was 5 or 6.  His mother had told him to clean his room.  Wanting to play instead, he told her he could not clean the room because he was blind.  When Mom responded that he had better clean his room or “else,” he suddenly exclaimed, “It is a miracle!  God touched me and I can see!”  I laughed until I cried.
  3. “Matthew’s School.”  When his older brother and sister went off to school, he felt left out.  So, I started a school for him in my home.  I gave his mother a list of school supplies and assigned homework.  We took field trips.  When he was old enough to go to school, I cried a little.
  4. Last year he had three days of vacation.  He took that time (and spent his own money) to fly to Illinois to spend a couple of days with his grandparents.  I cried a little.
  5. This year he made me a walking stick.  I have arthritis in my knees and he wanted to do something to help me out when taking a walk.  I cried a little.

So thankful that this little baby has grown into a fine young man – even if he makes me cry.

Happy Birthday Matthew!