May 10, 2009

To My Girls On Mother's Day!

Being a mother to our four girls, was what I dreamed of my whole life. Well, actually I dreamed of having 4 boys, but when each daughter arrived, there was no disappointment, we could not have been happier. In those days, most moms did what I was doing, I didn't know a lot of working mothers and the few I knew, well, I felt badly for them that they had to leave their kids all day, most didn't want to. My friends and I were just doing what our moms had done. Today I am remembering those dear friends. They made being moms together throughout the years, so much fun.

I remember how my nephew Dave would come home from work and find his wife Karen, my dearest friend and I laughing hysterically about nothing;

"What have you girls been doing all day?" he always asked half jokingly "What a fluff-life you two have!!" We both knew he was a little jealous of our life. WE did have a good life.

Some days, now that I am surrounded by working women, I look back and think, what a slacker I was, playing in a pool half the day with a bunch of kids! Maybe I should have gone back to work, heaven knows we needed the money from time to time. What did I do all those years when the girls finally went to school. Today, women "do it all" and very well too. So what did I do all those years??? Fortunately, I often run into people from my past, at a restaurant, on Facebook, at a funeral or even in Publix, and they remind me all I did throughout the years raising four children.
I prayed constantly and always for my girls, God was so kind to me throughout those years. My husband always believed I was the best mother ever, as did my own mother. I just lived life doing the best I could, I truly loved it all. They say with time memories fade, I hope not...I can still feel my heart beating fast in my chest, as Jennifer, wearing her navy blue smocked dress, carrying her new lunchbox stretched her tiny legs to climb on to that big yellow monster, like she was taking on the world. Or when Krissy did her "bright-lights" and her big brown eyes that were supposed to be blue widened like saucers making us all laugh, or when Jim and I watched Pachie singing and swinging happily in the backyard in Elverson, all by herself. Jim with arms around my waist and his head resting my shoulder, just watching; or Katie's sparkly eyes bringing me the smallest flowers, showing me a starry sky. Precious memories.......

My girls are amazing women today, each one brings a richness to her world by just being who she is. I am blessed to be their mother! They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me happy, they make me sad, but they fill my heart with a delight that cannot be contained. I thank God for how rich they have made my life, for being my teachers, for loving me and for showing me grace, and honoring me on this special day.

Jennifer, Krissy, Pache and Katie......I honor you today.....All my love, YMGH

May 9, 2009

Things I Love

The way my husband loves me and cares for me
Daisies in June along a PA country road
Nighttime starry skies when you can see the Milky Way
Thick newly cut grass
Florida morning skies
My Krissy’s heart
Crocus pushing through the snow in late February
Stories old people tell
The genuine laughter of children, especially those who have suffered great pain
Flying at sunrise when the clouds beneath are blazing like lava
A full moon reflecting off the ocean waters
Queen Anne’s lace
People who fight for the rights of children
Ethan’s “Great ideas!” and how Nate thinks they are great too
Pache’s strength in hard times
The way the eternal God visits me and whispers in my ear

The camaraderie of women
The singing of birds right before sunrise
How God “shows up” at death, and every other place
The way people love children at CHARLEE
That my grandchildren have the best fathers ever!!
My baby girl’s way of making me smile and giving me joy!
Men that cry, and apologize for being so sappy
Flower chains made by the ladies in Guntur

The beauty of autumn leaves
My Lucy Girl and her love for shoes
Purple lilacs in May
People who love the brokenhearted
Old, old songs
Walking in downtown Miami early in the morning
Old ladies who beat off robbers

Mada and Carter’s love for each other
The smell of a newborn baby’s skin
How Jorgie makes me laugh
Being called Mama
That Katie will ALWAYS be my baby
The small purple iris that grew by our home in Elverson
The giggle of African women walking home in the dark on the road to Pegari

Jen’s soulful art and written words
Making a game of all tasks
My nails when they are long
Weaves and hairstyles African American women wear
Black women who hate weaves
Finding old friends in Facebook
How dogs love their owners
Wild flowers

A newborn baby in my arms, especially Mason Gray
Crackling fires on a cold winter night
The way Marilyn March weeps every time she speaks about CHARLEE
Jonathan Scott singing
Ostentatious Christmas poinsettias at the Bank of America
Woman who are brave and courageous
The way tiny babies talk back to you when you speak to them eye to eye

That my mother knew I loved her
Kedy telling me he wished I was his “grandma”
People who understand and love old people
How Josiah loves Lyra
Linda’s childlike faith
The sea of colorful saris on a crowded Indian street
The way Jack looks at Josiah
Colorful flowers growing along the interstate highways
My sister-in-law Jane’s hands
Late afternoons on the beach when everyone leaves

The way my friend Kathy T has absolutely no idea how incredible she is
Reading in my swing
My sister – everything about her
Strangers that tell you their stories
Shoe-shine men and ladies

Sunsets in the Keys
Airports everywhere
People who adopt children and call them by their birth name
Knowing that an eternal God knows and loves me

Rita, Rita, Rita
My Jesus Never Fails sign – that hung in my childhood home
Jaywalking anywhere and everywhere
Singing around a campfire
When a foster child finds a home where they are unconditionally and deeply loved
Older black women with very, very short hair
My brother’s words that healed my soul
My husband, my friend

May 6, 2009

I Love Blogging!

My kids put me on to blogging…they were on the ground floor when it took off. I thought our daughter invented it but that shows how naïve a proud parent can be. Now it seems EVERYONE has a blog for just about everything! A year or two ago, I attended a Health Foundation event where Steve Marcus (CEO) asked how many organizations and agencies present had a blog. Few hands went up but I was proud to raise mine as our agency had recently started one. He then asked how many people knew what a blog was. Shockingly…only a small percentage actually knew. In their defense, it was a group of people catering to social services, well known for being over-worked and underpaid, treading water rather than sprinting ahead. He then said, “Young people today are not getting their hands dirty from news print; they are following life on the internet.”

My sister reminds me that we are immigrants in this technological world while our grandchildren are natives. Even though I have so much to learn, I find myself helping my younger co-workers who are amazed that a woman my age has an iPhone. I just keep jumping in, hoping I will somehow stay in the technology race even when others are so far ahead, and everyday something new is being introduced. Some things seem silly to me, like Twitter, yes I am on there but I keep thinking....who the heck cares what I am doing!? But blogging...well I like it!
My real favorites are the everyday blogs people write about themselves and the life they are living. If you want an experience, just be a blogger on Blogspot and it will allow you the opportunity to move to the next blog. As I moved along it was absolutely amazing …in 20 blogs I had circled the world, and also visit a few old hometown sites. People blogging about their business, their children, ever advancing technology, their struggles, their memories, their dreams, their illness, their future…..the list goes on and on.

I enjoy writing and everyday I write a story in my head, no matter what I am doing or thinking, unfortunately it never reaches a paper or computer. And my journals are full of whining and moaning, not my stories or encounters with people. So a couple of years ago I began this blog. Having this blog has reminded me that writing is oh so important the older we get. But I didn't think anyone read it, and I felt quite comfortable because the comments didn't work. It feels safe, it causes me to remember to learn on the journey, to remember the stories of people around me..

I will admit, blogging isn’t for everyone, but I want to encourage those who say “I don’t have time”….you do because someone needs to hear your story, that is what life is about….telling our stories.

Here are some people who need a blog, Don March, my sister-in-law Jane, Lucy Hernandez, my husband, Sharah and Karen Grace. Go for it guys!!

May 3, 2009

Thanksgiving Revisited in May

Last week I saw the little Latino lady again. She seemed healthier but most likely is still living in the streets. She brushed past me with no recognition, but I remembered clearly the little lesson she taught me about being grateful.

It was a brisk sunny morning right before Thanksgiving, a cold day for most South Floridians, especially if you are on the streets. I was in a hurry, at 7:30am I wanted to get a jump on my day. But then I saw her. Her hooded sweatshirt was pulled tightly around her face, tuffs of white hair sticking out everywhere, she was my age. Our eyes met, big blue eyes, like my dad’s, swimming with tears…. she didn’t say anything but the pain was etched deeply in her face. Confusion filled her eyes, she looked sick. Maybe disoriented? Even crazy?? Well I don’t make those assumptions anymore in the city; we are all a little crazy to varying degrees.

“Do you need something” I ask edsoftly, “Are you hungry?” She rambled on in Spanish, I understood very little. Again I asked if she is hungry, putting my fingers to my mouth. That would be me, I just want to fix something, everything, what do you need…I’ll try!

She shook her head no and whispered “café con leche” She just wanted some hot coffee. We headed back to the favorite place of early morning workers entering Government Center. We joined the line for the “specials” where you choose from a variety of breakfast dishes offering a full breakfast menu, including the coffee, all at a great price. The lady seemed hesitant but the girl behind the counter caught on quickly and spoke kindly to her in Spanish, offering everything in generous amounts. I smiled, I just loved that Bottega worker for that!! I finally paid and we headed for the tables.

I dropped to the chair beside the small lady who was now more comfortable and opening up in Spanish. Truthfully I just wanted to get to the office. I do not speak Spanish so the whole exercise seemed pointless, but I sat for a minute. She was fed...right? As her meal sat still boxed, she just wanted to tell me her story, something about a fever, the ER, her neck, something about aspirin. Thinking of the boys from this book I remembered that street people just need to tell their stories, they need to be heard. I wasn't really listening. Oh dear I just wanted to get to work!! I stayed for a minute, then told her she could go back to the ER but our communication was so poor. I had to leave!! I am sure she saw my impatience, she started saying

“Tank you Mommy, Tank you Mommy…Deos te bendiga! Usted es una buena mujer!”

We embraced but I was barely out the door when I heard the voice! Who is that voice anyway?? Is it me, my conscience, some sicko thing I have going, or....does God really speak to my soul! It is always quiet and just comes.... age and years have taught me to pay attention.

“Go back and give her some money….she needs Tylenol or Motrin for the fever, she has a virus” I turned back reluctantly and headed for the table. She didn’t see me coming but I had a clear view of her back. Her head moving like she is talking to someone but no one is there. As I approached, I could see her eyes looking high above and her hands poised in prayer, like those alter boys I've seen in the Catholic Church. Her face looked like an angel, her fear gone and with my poor Spanish I could understand her words. "Thank you God! Thank you Jesus” she rattled on through her tears, I could see she was immersed in pure joy!…truly thankful. She suddenly turned in my direct as I stood in front of her, telling me something in Spanish about God, pointing to the untouched food and then to the ceiling of the high atrium. Now I was awkward, so I handed her the money and told her she needed medicine, I told her to talk to the pharmacist pointing to the downstairs pharmacy. Walking away, I turned, she was eating the food.

I was hurrying along till I heard the voice again, resonating from deep inside, pregnant with truth;

“Ginny, THAT was Thanksgiving”

In all my plans that year, I was not in a place of true Thanksgiving. I cannot explain it but there was something about that little lady’s spirit, she was truly grateful, in a way that being needy brings. I was very needy too, but I didn’t even know it till I met her. God bless her wherever she is. What would I ever do without all these strangers teaching me every day?!