Thursday, April 30, 2020

When I was a Baby

I spent a good part of this dark, rainy Thursday typing Dad's 1964 diary entries into my computer. I'm halfway through June.

There isn't much to tell about the almost 3 month old me. Mostly I spend my evenings in a rocking chair with one of my parents, have already had chicken pox thanks to my older brother, and am starting to smile. Dad mostly says I'm "cute" and only once has he said I'm "being difficult." Ha ha!

My brothers are 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 years old. Mom and Dad are struggling to find help for their youngest son who is mentally handicapped. They don't have answers, but are searching for solutions. They've tried a drug to help settle him, and talked to a doctor in Niagara Falls, an osteopath, who has decided she cannot help them. He's been referred to as "emotionally disturbed," but no one knows what to do. He can not go to school and is difficult if not impossible to control, especially when the weather turns nice.

(May 20, 1964, Wed- Worked all day. Studied at noon. Have a lot of ground to cover before exams. We came to another "dead end" with Tim. Dr. Dovesmith is out. Very discouraging. Ar and I had tea and rocked our baby. Very tired.)

Mom's days, mostly unmentioned, are filled with taking care of her children and home. She's been weepy, fought sickness, and spends long days at home without Dad.

Dad is tired and overwhelmed with responsibilities. He works anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day at an often difficult and frustrating office job, is taking a night class (Psychology 102), and is doing the best he can to keep up with his family and their needs. He often stays up way too late, and is physically exhausted.

(May 28, 1964, Thurs- Sunny, cool. Worked all day till 6:00 PM. Ate at the diner, and went to school. After school I studied till 9:30 in the library. Later Ar and I had tea and held Martha. She's getting cuter and cuter. Late. Tired.)

It's not the picture of Mom and Dad that I remember, and although it doesn't surprise me, I never took the time to really think about it until the last several years. In looking at the past I see little bits and pieces of what makes me who I am. I'm understanding us in a whole new way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How Did it Get to Be Wednesday Already?

Hm... Only missed a day of blogging and I already don't know what happened yesterday. Ha ha!

Hannah was sleepy yesterday, so when Idris took his rest, she took a nap as well. It just so happened that my sister Rachel decided to come over and take a walk with me. A walking partner is always preferable to walking alone. Yesterday we walked out of the housing tract, across State Rd, and into a new tract on the other side. I'd never even been down any of those streets, so it was a brand new walk for both of us.

I was still waiting for the mechanic to call and tell me my car was ready, but didn't want to call and interrupt him when Rachel left. He texted me an hour later and Hannah gave me a ride to pick it up. I am so thankful not to be worried about how to pay the bill. God knew exactly what I would need ahead of time and the money was in my bank account. My brake light is off and my car is road safe again.

Number Nine had a tough time going to bed last night. He cried and came out multiple times. I finally brought my pillow and little blanket downstairs to see if I might be able to help. The room was pitch dark when I went in and climbed onto the bed. He sniffled for a while, but stopped crying. I was curled up and quiet at the end of his bed, and although last time he had told me, "Go away and leave me alone, Grammy," this time he tossed his stuffed animals down to me, and at one point, just inches from my face, whispered, "Gram, you're my favorite."   

This morning I was greeted by a small voice at the bottom of the stairs, "Grammy! Are you up there?" he called. "Can I come up?" Of course I said yes.

Today I had a pain in the back of my neck. Probably from the couple of hours I lay curled in a ball, asleep in a strange bed. Ha ha! I visited my chiropractor friend a little before 3 pm, and then stopped to see my other daughter and snuggle my new grandson before heading home again. 

It's been a laid back kind of day. We're expecting several days of rain, and it's looking as though I may be going back to work on Monday. Six hour days until the daycare gets going again, which will mean I get to come home and spend the afternoon here. That's good, because I rather like it here.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Today and Yesterday

It rained all day Sunday, but because Saturday had been so beautiful, the rain was easier to take. I went to church online in the morning, and when Hannah and Sergio went out later, I stayed home. While they were gone I started a batch of homemade white bread, and made a dish of bread pudding. Late in the day Hannah and I took a rain walk with Idris. Along the way we cleared debris from the gutters so the rainwater could run down into the storm sewer "where the alligators live."

This morning I took my car back into the shop to have the brakes checked. I need two new brake lines, which was no surprise to me. They are original to the car and it is 11 years old. It won't be done until tomorrow as the shop was terribly busy, but I have nowhere pressing to go so that's okay. Rachel picked me up at the mechanic's and we went back to her house for the day.

It was a wet, gray morning. I had packed Dad's old diaries into my purse, along with my reading glasses, and we spent the morning looking at separate computers while typing in old diary entries. I started with 1964 and she with 1969. We typed along until lunchtime, ate grilled cheese sandwiches and Fritos, and kept right on working until we decided to get up and stretch our legs.

By afternoon the sky was looking a little brighter and the clouds not so thick and heavy. We decided to walk around the neighborhood. The walk felt wonderful. Along the way my phone rang and I heard a cheery voice on the other end of the line. It was my boss Kim. The daycare owner is hoping to begin opening up the center again and we can start back to work next week. We won't necessarily have a multitude of children, but we'll be getting the center ready for the kids to return. The plan is to work 30 hours and get paid for 40. I am ready to go back.

When our walk was over we got back to working on the diaries. It is tedious work. Each book is a Five-Year diary which means minuscule handwriting and lots of turning pages. By the time she took me home a little after 4 pm, we'd each copied from January 1 to about the 17th of March. We only have about 18 1/2 years left to go. Ha ha! It could take us all summer!

This evening I took a little walk around the corner and down to the woods with my camera. Number Nine was home in the driveway playing bubbles with his daddy when I left. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending these last four weeks with him and his mom.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

More of 1968

I am intentionally leaving out so many things from Dad's diary, but the bits and pieces of my early childhood help me know the little me a little better. 

May 31, 1968- Rained most of the day. I borrowed a dump truck and hauled crushed stone most of the day. We need one more load. Marth likes dump trucks. Prisc doesn't. Tonight we mowed the lawn. Our place is looking better. Lots of work. Tea. Tired.

(My dad's uncle owned a construction company and thus Dad borrowed a dump truck. It was a big one, at least to a four year old. I remember feeling pretty special riding along with him in that truck. We drove across the Irondequoit Bay Bridge on our way to and from home. Later I would dream of Dad driving the truck across while the bridge was breaking. It was a recurring nightmare and terribly frightening.)

June 5, 1968- Bobby Kennedy was shot in LA. ... After work I took our lawn mower to Jim Muskers's and brought home an orange kitten. ...

June 6, 1968- Bobby Kennedy died. A shock to the nation. ... Our kids love the cat. ...

I learn some interesting things reading these old journals...

June 16, 1968- Ar and Marth stayed home. (from church) Marth had a earache. ...

(I remember the earache, the pain deep inside each time I swallowed, and the fluid that spilled onto  my pillow when my eardrum eventually ruptured.)

June 17, 1968-  ... The Lord spared Marth and us a terrible accident with the mower. ... 

(At present I do not recall this incident. Not exactly anyway. I do recall my mother's grave and stern warnings concerning lawn mowers. And I also remember my parents being much more shook up about whatever happened, or whatever it was that didn't happen, than I was.)

June 20, 1968- ... Marth's heart murmur has progressed. ...

(I know absolutely nothing about having had a heart murmur.)

In recent news, my little friend Sofie left this world early yesterday. My friend Lia is heartbroken. I've found myself teary as well, but I am at a loss as to whether I am sad for Lia, myself, or whether Sofie's passing is helping me grieve another piece of my mom. I think it is most likely the latter.

It was a gorgeous day! Rachel and I took a long walk to the village and back again. Later I went to her house for a bit while Hannah and Sergio were gone.

Friday, April 24, 2020


I "borrowed" my dad's diary from my sister last time I was in Canandaigua. It takes some effort to read a five year diary penned in minuscule handwriting. Mostly I read bits and pieces...

3/27/1967- ... After supper I played with Marth. She's a honey. ...

3/27/1968- ... Tomorrow Marth goes into the hospital for her operation. ... 

3/28/1968- ... Ar and Marth spent most of the day at the hospital. After work I went there, and we colored pictures and played with Marth in her ward. She is a good girl, and very cheery about the whole thing. ...

3/29/1968- ... Marth had her eye operation, so Ar spent the day at the hospital. After work I went back home to get Dan, dropped him off at Mom's and went to the hospital. Read stories to Marth. She has a patch on her eye, and it irritates some, but she's very good. She waved goodbye at the elevator. Cute.

3/30/1968- ... We brought Marth home from the hospital. Ar was jumpy and irritable, so we got into a scrap.. Got our groceries, then I went back into work for 6 hrs, (12-6). Tired tonight. Baths. Marth's eye looks good. Life is very involved and complicated.

3/31/1968- ...Coffee, Sunday school, and church. ... Dan, Marth and Prisc stayed with Barb and the kids while Ar and I went to see Tim. He was so cute and sparkly, but we didn't have near enough time with him. ...

4/01/1968- Ar cried herself to sleep, (Tim). Marth is having trouble with her eye. Ar took her to the doctor's. ... Marth cries a lot. 

4/04/1968 ... Pouring rain, windy. Martin Luther King was shot to death in Memphis, Tennesee.

4/07/1968- ... Barb stopped over. She bought a house. ... Tonight Ar went to church. I had Dan, John, Kathy, Karen, Marth, and Prisc. Had a hectic time. Prisc cried, Dan stepped in the cake. I did a lot of running around for gas. Prisc threw up all over the front seat. I took them home (mine), cleaned up Marth and Prisc in the tub. Ar came home, then I took Art's kids out home. ...

4/08/1968- ... Marth's eye is good. ...

4/09/1968- ... Martin Luther King's funeral was today. We had some riot scares, but was only rumor. ...

4/13/1968- ... Tonight the folks took us all to Cartwright's for supper. We had a very nice time. Stopped at the Trading Post. The kids were cute.

I was four years old for all but the first of these entries and it's strange the memories and feelings that come rushing in when I read some of this. As an adult I have a better understanding of our family history and the timeline of major events, and I find myself sympathetic toward not only my parents (Mom was pregnant and unaware, and the company Dad worked for was struggling to survive) but my Aunt Barb as well. She had just lost her husband to cancer that February and had six small children to raise by herself. Life certainly was in a state of turmoil for the adults in my world.

And then there was the little Martha who had troubles of her own. I think for most of my first five years I was lost in a sea of unintentional and uncontrollable chaos, topped off with two eye operations followed by a pair of subsequent surgeries for a bladder re-flux. As a very little girl I was expected to "man-up," although no one would have called it that. Smile and wave goodbye at the hospital elevator and don't cry. Be brave, even if just under the surface you are terrified and alone. I can scarcely believe we got groceries the day I came home from the hospital...

The supper with Grandma and Grandpa at Cartwright's... I wonder if that was the time the fire whistle went off at the station across the street and I dove under the table without any warning. I was petrified of sirens.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

I Believe It's Thursday

I have not been out to the grocery store since last week. Yesterday I went to see my chiropractor and followed that will a very cold walk with my friend Chris.  We took a walk in a newish nature preserve in Williamson. The preserve hugs the Pultneyville Cemetery (both sides and around the back) and skirts the edge of Lake Ontario. Yesterday was not only sunny, it was cold and windy too. It was not a day for ice cream no matter how much we love Yia Yia's. We decided to grab some coffee at Dunkin Donuts and socially distant visit at her house. A word of advice- Make sure your bladder is always empty if you plan to be out for any length of time. The places that have public restroom (like Dunkin) aren't letting people in, and this is why we ended up at Chris's house.

Like I said, I haven't been shopping for a week now. Hannah took my car and went to Wegmans this morning, and I thought about going out for a few things myself, but my brake light came on yesterday and I can't take the risk. I called someone who knows more than me and in the course of our conversation found a few leakage spots where I've been parking my car. Boo! I called my mechanic again and he will take a look at my car on Monday. In the meantime, I guess I will have to walk if I want to get somewhere.

It's been a lazy week. Sunday's walk was wonderful, but since them I've been pretty lax. I've not been getting up early enough, and I've stayed up too late. I'm not meeting my own expectations in being disciplined and productive. In spite of this, I am okay. Tomorrow is a new day and more is being accomplished than meets the eye. I've had some really great snuggles from Number Nine recently, and that is a great accomplishment.

 In other news, my little friend Sofie, the puppy I brought home 12 years ago and gave to a friend in 2015, is not doing well. My friend Lia says she cannot last long now. I found myself teary when she said, "She is honestly the sweetest dog we have ever had." I am thankful for this friend who gave my dog a loving and devoted home when I no longer had the time she needed, and yet I still feel sad.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day Number ?

Henry had a Pediatric appointment yesterday morning, and so we saw the kids again. Josh went along with Beth to carry the car seat. Being a valid helper is so good for him.

It was a noisy morning, and a quiet afternoon.

Sunny days with frigid temperatures are disappointing in mid April. We did not go for a walk.

In the later afternoon Idris and I made "Monkey Bread". It's really an old recipe from Mom's red and white cookbook. The original name is "Golden Bubble Ring" but Monkey Bread sounds like more fun. After all the risings, it was barely out of the oven when he was climbing into bed. We promised him some for breakfast and he had a generous helping today.

We woke to snow. Not my favorite April sighting, but not out of the ordinary either. It won't last. Most of it is gone already. Little boys are as excited for snow in April and they are in mid November. Number Nine had to go outside and check it out. He washed the screen door window, dropped a few handfuls of snow in a puddle to melt, and took a taste of the fresh snow before deciding his hands were cold.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Bright, Bright, Bright Sunshiney Day!

Although every day has a Saturday-esque feeling, no two are exactly the same. Today Hannah and I went to Bethany's house. Although it feels like we are bending the rules, Beth had a PT appointment and needed someone to stay with her older kids while she was gone. Hannah was selected to be the chauffeur. I stayed at the house to supervise my grandchildren.

Josh is in love with his baby brother.

Yes, we got to sneak a snuggle with the baby. A little one.

Idris and Jilly were thrilled to play outside together.

When Beth and Hannah returned, Hannah took my car and went to an appointment of her own. Upon her return we packed a shoe-less Number Nine into the car. He complained at having no shoes, but his mother told him he hadn't wanted his shoes and now he'd lost his opportunity. I smiled because I see where he learns his vocabulary. He told his mother not long ago that he was "oppressed" because she was getting after him for something. Ha ha!

No long walk today, just a stroll around the block this morning. Idris peeked down a sewer grate on the corner and called down, "Hey, Alligator! Are you awake?" Hannah told him alligators live down there in hopes it would keep him from tossing debris down through the openings. This evening I brought my pillow and little blanket downstairs. Someone's been having a bit of trouble staying in his bed at night and I wanted him to know I was ready to sleep in his room if he needed some help. He was pretty certain that wouldn't be necessary, and you know what? He was right! LOL!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday, April 19

I've been staying up too late, taking melatonin to sleep, and having an awful time waking up. I was a little late for church this morning and even sat down to my computer with wet hair. (Oh, my! This is why I need a schedule.) I enjoyed the church service and caught the message again late this afternoon. I will probably pull it up again a time or two as the week progresses.

After the church service wrapped up, I met my friend Laura for a hike. I had never hiked this trail and found it absolutely gorgeous. It was a great walk with a lot of going up and down hills along the way.

We were out for close to 2 hours. The sunshine gradually disappeared until the sky was heavy with clouds. We were already back in the parking lot when the rain began to fall.

PS. Little Henry is home! Hooray!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Somebody Said It Was Saturday

Today was a brighter day than yesterday. Just before noon I stopped by my sister's house to pick up a couple of masks. My sweet brother in law has adopted his mother's sewing machine and is honoring her memory by sewing face coverings. She would be so proud of him. In my mind I see her smiling...

From my sister's I drove to the home of my friend Karen, so I could wave at Beanie through the window. I took an outside picture, but I liked the one Karen put on Facebook so much better, even if it is almost four weeks old. We had a nice visit through the glass of her screen door, a virtual hug, and then we waved goodbye.

I got gasoline on the way home. I think it was $2.10/gallon.

The afternoon found me walking around the block twice. I stopped to chat with an old neighbor at the corner, and then chatted with Bethany before taking a call from my friend Angel. Our new baby is improving all the time and will soon be able to join his family at home. This is an answer to prayer. Sweet Henry. (We'll see what he ends up being called once he gets home. Not everyone is fond of the name Henry yet and some might prefer to call him Jackson instead. And then there is Jilly who told me last Monday that she was going to name the baby "Tree." Ha ha!

Late in the day we decided to take a ride to Durand Eastman Park and go for a walk there. An asphalt path runs from a residential area through the woods and down to the lake. It was a beautiful afternoon to be out walking, and aside from the runaway scooter that I caught before it ran off into the woods, we kept our six foot distance from our neighbors.

My son Ben told us he had been there walking today too. We didn't see him, but you know this mama would have broken that six foot rule to hug her son.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Adjusting Attitudes

It was a better day. The temperatures outside remain brisk, too cold for gardening and yard work, but mostly suitable for a walk if we dress accordingly. I'd intended to get up early, but didn't sleep especially well, a result, I am sure, of getting myself worked up yesterday.I turned my alarm clock off before it had a chance to sound, and slept in (again).

I spent most of my day at Mom's dining room table. I think of her when I sit there. Every day she sat and looked out the window, watching for the mailman or someone stopping by to visit. There is a bit of a catch in my chest as I remember, and I find myself missing her. Today I sat with my back toward the window, soaking up the little bit of sunlight flowing in, and played games. I worked on a marker drawing in my oversized sketch book, and I made a collage of pictures and words clipped from old coupon books and magazines years ago.

I checked my computer, looked at phone messages, and talked with Hannah and Idris. He played cars. "This guy needs a tow," he told me.
"Where are they taking him," I asked.
And he replied in a rather matter of fact and very, grown up manner, "“They’re taking him to the mechanic.” He's too cute.

Late this afternoon we went for another walk to the village. We did not wear face coverings. I did have a cut off shirt sleeve folded around two rubber bands deep inside my pocket, just in case, but we did not see much of anyone out walking. It was too cold and too close to dinner time.

I found an email from the owner of the daycare telling us he still hopes to open our center come May. Crazy but I'm making more money collecting unemployment than I ever make working. I'm putting the extra in my savings account. If and when I get a stimulus check, it will go in there too. For now the bank account looks pretty good. And I'm still missing the little ones at work. I won't mind going back when it's time.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

It's Thursday, If That Makes Any Difference

In some ways I feel as though I should be documenting the historic events of Covid-19, but other than reporting the grim statistics and government mandates, my days look pretty much the same. Yesterday I went to see my chiropractor who straightened my neck. I went away feeling better physically, but a little guilty for having gone out.

We have a new state mandate regarding face masks. They "must"
be worn in public (along with hand washing, social distancing, and gobs of hand sanitizer) if you dare to venture outside your home. Today Hannah, Idris, and I went for a ride to pick up a bag of fabric masks made by a friend. I also dropped off a few jigsaw puzzles to a friend whose son has been enjoying them during this time of staying home. I have more than enough to share and the boxes haven't been opened in months, perhaps years.

I'm trying not to be frustrated. Staying home isn't the issue as much as how to spend the time, and being made to feel guilty if I happen to go out without a mask. It was weird enough when I was still working, but now if we dare to question whether any of this is induced hysteria or overreach, we are condemned as uncaring. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Is wanting life back to normal really selfish?

I woke to sunshine and blue skies, but it was cold and snow graced miniature leaves and branches. I literally drove into a snow squall on my way to drop off the puzzles. Working outside in the yard or putting in a garden would be therapeutic. I don't want to be cranky, and I promise to be nice even while I am frustrated. I am thankful for all the ways God has blessed me, but there are red flags waving from all directions and I'm not sure how to respond.

I actually had to look at the calendar to find out what day it is. (It's Thursday.) It's also Number 3's birthday. Today he is 10 years old. Happy Birthday, Simon! I wish we were having a party, but one day there will be a grand celebration and I'm eagerly looking forward to that day. I hope it truly happens.