Did That Really Just Happen To Me? (for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop)

Writing Prompt: Share one of your “did that really just happen to me” life moments.

I Missed WHO??!!

It was the spring of 1999. I was backpacking around the UK and Europe with a friend from university, as well as some other friends who joined up with us in different countries. We had just graduated the year before, were gainfully employed, and decided to spend five weeks seeing another part of the world. We saw many notable sites including Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, remains of the Berlin Wall, and the Roman Colosseum.

romancolosseum

It was an incredible and unforgettable experience. One day, while in Rome, Italy, my friend and I decided to go to the Vatican to take a look around. And it did not disappoint. However, something strange happened when we were inside St. Peter’s Basilica: we had only been there for about five or ten minutes, and had only seen a little bit of the inside, when we were shooed out. We had no idea what was going on, but we weren’t about to argue with anyone there about being told to leave. Not with the several “interesting” incidents we had in the country. (Perhaps that will be a topic of another blog!) So we left. We saw chairs set up outside in St. Peter’s Square, and a podium. I even took a picture.

vatican2

That “set-up” should have been my clue that something big was happening. Nope. My friend and I made our way back to our hostel in Rome. It wasn’t until about an hour later – when another person whom we’d met at the hostel and had spent part of that day with returned – that we found out why we were shooed out and why St. Peter’s Square was transformed. The Pope had made an appearance. Right there. Where we had just been a little over an hour before. I’m not Catholic, but I knew about the Pope, obviously, and had even studied him and his trip to Canada in grade 5. And if I had stayed in St. Peter’s Square for another few minutes, I would have actually seen Pope John Paul II and heard him speak. But I didn’t. Did that really just happen to me?

33 Words for the Photo Provided – Trifextra Writing Challenge (Trifecta)

Trifextra Writing Challenge, Week 101: Use 33 words inspired by the picture below.

Here goes:

She walked by, trying not to look in.  Another day wasted on those books. She’s going to miss life if she doesn’t look up once in a while.  Regret is painful.  I know.

Image

Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard / Foter / CC BY  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/5678203035/)

Saying Goodbye (for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop)

Writing Prompt: Who was the last person to call you? Why?

Although I had been waiting for that phone call, and I had been preparing myself for my grandfather’s death since last weekend, when my husband came upstairs with the phone as I was walking in the door from work, I found myself unprepared.

“It’s your mom. I think it’s your grandpa,” were my husband’s words.

“Shannon…” My mom fought through tears. “Dad passed away…At quarter after 2.”

My grandfather passed away yesterday. He lived a long life – he would have been 98 next month – and a blessed life. He had 7 children, all of whom were constantly by his bedside, as well as many grandchildren, and even more great-grandchildren. And unlike many, he had the opportunity to say goodbye. Last weekend the family was called, and my grandpa spent the Saturday with them, saying goodbye, and telling them he missed their mother. My grandmother passed away in October of 2012. Grandpa was ready to go. Selfishly, I didn’t want him to go. My grandparents were the best grandparents I could have ever asked for. And because my other grandparents passed away when I was very young, these were really the only ones I had. They were always there for me. They were the ones who took care of me when I was sick and my parents had to work. They were the ones who had me over for lunch every single school day when I was in grade 7 and grade 8 because they lived across the street from my school. They were there for plays, graduations, wedding celebrations, and baby showers. When I ran away from home as a teenager (for a few days – don’t ask), guess where I went? Yes. I went to my grandparents’ house. Needless to say, I had a special relationship with them, and I was extremely close with them. I had regular phone conversations with my grandmother, and sometimes with my grandpa who wasn’t as chatty as my grandma (I take after her in that way, and in many others!). My grandfather had a stroke when I was pregnant with my 7 year old son, and so since then it hadn’t been easy having conversations with him. He mostly just said, “Amen!” and “My little honeybun!”. But he always had a smile on his face. And even as he lay in his bed dying, weak and unable to eat or drink, my grandfather was still smiling. Thankfully I had my chance to say goodbye to him last Wednesday, when I went to visit. I knew there was not much time left to be with him. I wanted to tell him how wonderful he was as a grandfather. I don’t think I ever did that before. I wanted to tell him how much I love him. I wanted to hold his hand. I wanted to tell him I was there. And I did. I got that chance. It doesn’t make losing him any easier. It doesn’t make me less sad. But it was something. I didn’t get that chance with my grandma. And it kills me every day. Today I choose to remember my grandpa and grandma as they were for most of my life: happy and smiling, loving, and healthy, like they are in the picture below. I love you both. Thank you for all you did for me and all you mean to me.

grandparentsandme

reception

IMG_1656

A Special Love

It’s been a rough few days. My grandfather is dying, in his nursing home. He is almost 98 years old (his birthday is in February), and he has had a blessed life. He has 7 children, all of whom are constantly by his bedside, as well as many grandchildren, and even more great-grandchildren. He seems to be comfortable, though weak. And unlike many, he has had the opportunity to say goodbye. Several days ago his children were called, and my grandpa spent that day with them, saying goodbye, and telling them he missed their mother. My grandmother passed away in October of 2012. Grandpa is ready to go. But, selfishly, I don’t want him to go. My grandparents have been the best grandparents I could have ever asked for. And because my other set of grandparents passed away when I was very young, these grandparents were really the only ones I had. They were always there for me. They were the ones who took care of me when I was sick and my parents had to work. They were the ones who had me over for lunch every single school day when I was in grade 7 and grade 8 because they lived across the street from my school. They were there for plays, graduations, wedding celebrations, and baby showers. When I ran away from home as a teenager (for a few days – don’t ask), guess where I went? Yes. I went to my grandparents’ house. Needless to say, I have had a special relationship with them, and I have been extremely close with them. I had regular phone conversations with my grandmother, and sometimes with my grandpa who wasn’t as chatty as my grandma (I take after her in that way, and in many others!). My grandfather had a stroke when I was pregnant with my 7 year old son, and so since then it hasn’t been easy having conversations with him. He mostly just says, “Amen!” and, “My little honeybun!”. But he has always had a smile on his face. And now, lying in his bed and dying, weak and unable to eat or drink, my grandfather is still smiling. He is trying to say, “Amen!”, but he can’t get many of those “Amen”s out anymore. I went to visit him yesterday, just to be with him for a few hours while he lay in bed. I know there is nothing I can do – I fully accept that – but I wanted to see him. I want to make sure I get to see him as much as I can before… I cannot. I tear up with that thought, and, honestly, I can’t imagine a time when I won’t have him there. Yesterday I wanted to tell him how wonderful a grandfather he has been. I don’t think I have ever done that before. I wanted to tell him how much I love him. I wanted to hold his hand. I wanted to tell him I was there. And I did. I got that chance. It doesn’t make the thought of losing him any easier. It doesn’t make me less sad. But it was something. I didn’t get that chance with my grandma. And it kills me every day. Below is a picture that was taken before my grandfather’s stroke. I love it and I choose today to remember my grandpa and grandma like that: happy and smiling, loving, and healthy. I love you both. Thank you for all you did for me and all you mean to me.

grandparentsandme

Pinterest-Inspired (for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop)

Writing Prompt: Share something you tried after seeing it on Pinterest.  Did it turn out?

I have to admit something: though I REALLY, REALLY WANT to be crafty, and I can “see” fabulous things I’ve created in my own mind (when I am envisioning a time when I will actually create them), I am not that person.  I am not the one who has beautiful scrapbooks for her children (one of my friend’s does, and they are masterpieces).  I am not the one who sees something in a food magazine and can reproduce it so that IT should be in a magazine.  And it kills me that I cannot do these things as well as others.  No one likes that feeling of being inadequate.  All that said, I do go to Pinterest for ideas.

Last April I set out to make my little girl’s birthday cake for her 2nd birthday, and found several pictures of interesting ones on Pinterest.  A friend of mine, who is pretty crafty but not quite to Martha Stewart’s level, said her sister-in-law had made one of the cakes, and that it looked very good once done.  It also didn’t seem too difficult to make, she said.  So I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Crazy? I didn’t think so at the start.  But after trying to make little animals out of fondant – including using dye on them – and them not really looking fabulous like I wanted them to, I said to my husband,  “I can’t believe I thought I could do it. And now it’s too late to order one from our cake lady.”  Yes, we have a “cake lady”.  She’s the one who has made our son’s cakes for several years, and who made our daughter’s 1st birthday cake.  She truly has talent.  Anyway, after a lot of time working on those animals, and realising they wouldn’t be perfect but my daughter wouldn’t care, I did it. And, surprisingly, I was pleased with the results of the entire cake.

animals 2

I call it “Animals Frolicking in a Field”.  No it will not be in any magazines, nor will it be on anyone’s board on Pinterest.  I’m sure I won’t be getting a call from Buddy for “The Next Great Baker”.  But my kids absolutely loved it, and that means far more than it being perfect.

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Window

I really like this challenge that popped up on my WordPress feed, from The Daily Post. It is to share a photo with a window, because a window can “tell you about where you are – and where you’re not – and mark a particular moment in time…Windows…can stir up memories and big ideas.”

pic of italy

This is a picture I took in 1999.  It’s from a window in the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, and I took it the spring that I backpacked around the UK and Europe.  I remember being astonished by the countries I saw while travelling, but especially Rome.  Everywhere you go in Rome, there are ancient ruins just sitting there.  It’s incredible.  I took many, many pictures of the Colosseum that day, and when I was leaving and looked out this particular window, I just had to take another.  To me, “framing” the scene outside of a street filled with remnants of the distant past, with a window, was like peering out a window to the days of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  It was presenting another period in time.  And it was capturing what defined Italy to me.

At the time, I was young (24), and I was “educated” (I had graduated from university the year before), but I did not know nearly as much about the world – including historical events and figures – as I do now.  I wish I had because everything would have meant so much more.  Though the picture was taken almost 15 years ago, the person behind the camera is still the same in many ways: a lover of history and learning (one reason I became a teacher); someone who likes to “document” her life with pictures (I STILL use photo albums – the ones you can actually touch and turn the pages of – and have hundreds upon hundreds of pictures, even from the last few years); and someone who likes to travel and see the world (though I’m a little bit of a scaredy-cat in my “old”er age).

Now I feel an urge to go eat pizza and gelato…

33 Words for the beginning, “The first time I saw…” – Trifextra Writing Challenge (Trifecta)

Trifextra Writing Challenge, Week 100: Use 33-words – all one syllable each – to continue the sentence “The first time I saw…”

The first time I saw…

…the post, I cried.  Was it true?  No more calls? No more hugs?  No more, “Love you, dear”?  The phone rang.  It was mom.  Her mom had fought…but lost.  My rock. Gone.