Monday, June 8, 2009

I REMEMBER- Grandma Grace Stories Part 1

...talking to my Mom [Grace Margaret Chiles (Whitlock) Welton] after her first emergency trip to the hospital emergency room when she had serious problems breathing. She called it her "Dress Rehearsal" and how lucky she was to have the opportunity to focus on the last part of her life and attend to the business of getting things in order. She still didn't get every thing done, but got pretty close. She had a chance to say how much she loved the important people in her life and did a pretty fair job of tying up loose ends and categorizing things for Sharon (my sister) and me to handle after she was gone. Things were pretty well organized and easy to find ( after many, many weekends of closet and garage cleaning with help from her children) and she had lots of directions written down for us to follow (teachers are like that you know)....kind of like leaving lesson plans and homework for us. She considered herself blessed with the opportunity to have time between the "dress rehearsal" and the "final show". Not everyone gets that precious gift of time. So many people pass away "before their time" and leave unfinished business and unrequited relationships...people they never got around to saying "I love you" to and "I appreciated knowing you", etc.

I find myself going through a similar phase now. I shrugged off being diagnosed with Glaucoma a few years back. Later, I discovered I had heart valve issues and having to start a permanent regimen of pills to keep the a-fib in check was just a minor inconvenience (other than having to give up caffeine). My outlook was that my body parts warranties were just expiring along with my receding hairline and defective hearing and found it somewhat humorous, but it didn't slow me down. After this latest bout with Tonsil Cancer, I am somewhat close to admitting I just might be in the last portion of my turn on earth. Not morose, just insightful observation. I fully expect to live another 20 plus healthy years. I hope so, as I have a lot of loose ends to clean up.

I had far too much fun for one person to experience the first 3/4 of my life and although there are some regrets, I wouldn't trade much away for the fantastic experiences I have had. I went everywhere, did everything (some things more than twice), and accumulated a lot of "stuff" along with my memories and stories. I was in the "acquisition" mode for most of my life. I think mostly it was the satisfaction of "acquiring" vs. real need that has caused my bulge in excess cook books I loved when I bought them, but never read beyond one or two recipes. I was probably in one of my "blonde" moments and succumbed to the fact that it was pretty and shiny with a delicious looking cover. I am now considering selling-giving away all my cookbooks and getting a small laptop to keep in the kitchen and tune it into the food network or cooking .com.

I am consolidating all my photos and slides to jpgs and becoming a good philanthropist with Goodwill. I am tossing my slides, creating photo and cd albums for my kids and of course, this Blog - living forever on the internet and perhaps even in print. This Blog is a big part of my commitment to divest myself of stuff I can't take with me. I am hoping for a long experience of enjoying the "Zen" portion of my life...such as a single orchid and 3 stones vs crates of crap in my closets.

I found a box of my mom's things last weekend. In it was my mom's pre-internet version of the "Blog". She was a writer. Not much ever got written down, but when she did, it was beautiful and touched your heart. She had so much to share ( and used her turn to teach), but the budding writer never burst forth as she had imagined.

I found two of her spiral notebooks in a box. The first one said " Grandma Stories! It was a journal she wrote to chronicle her life stories for the grandkids (six at the time - pre Sarah Grace Loeffler Welton). There was about a half a page of some story about being a little girl on her daddy's farm. I think she was going to tell the story about her pet raccoon and the sugar cube her older brothers gave it to wash before eating. I loved that story, and although I loved my uncles, I was upset with the way they teased her pet raccoon.

I am not sure though, as the story stopped in mid sentence. She was probably interrupted or distracted by someone selling Girl Scout cookies at the front door; the notebook was put down somewhere in her "office" and never found again until last weekend. I chuckled and picked up the second notebook. It too was a spiral 8 1/2" by 11" and almost identical to the first. This one also said "Grandma Stories" on the cover. She must have given up finding the first one and just started over.

This time, she had written a two page prologue about who, what, when, where, why, and how she was going to accomplish this wonderful gift of her life's experiences. The next page was a cover page that stated in big colorful bold marker pen..."Grandma's Stories". The next 95 pages were blank.

I am now committed to writing my "Robert Welton Remembers Blog" as regularly as I can, with the time I have left (twenty years just about do it if I write fast and stick to it). I have already gotten past my "prologue".

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