Monday, October 22, 2007


I am reading OLD letters I sent to Dad when we were apart for 6 months at a time...can you IMAGINE that? Talk about frustrated and was tough but then all the other military wives were in the same boat so I couldn't feel SOOOOO sorry for myself then. But looking back, I DO feel a bit sorry for Penny aged 30 in Japan with a newborn third child and knowing that he will be 2 1/2 months old before his father even sees him! An ocean apart from the family back home most of the time and trying to walk to the post office on base in the RAIN to see if there is mail from the USS Midway ship that day or not...I cannot believe I tolerated that but I did and hundreds of other wives did, so it wasn't only me by any means.

It is sad to read all of the anxiety and hopefulness but yet I also am sort of pumped up that I did it! I thought that I was sort of wimpy but I guess not!?

It is great in a way at my age to look back and see evidence that you actually gave pretty cool birthday parties sans Daddy, had a neighbor and her three kids over for quiche ( a brand NEW recipe and sophisticated idea!), went to PTO meetings, drilled math facts, went to soccer games, kept a 2-year-old boy for over a week while his mother (sans his Daddy who was on the ship with Winston) ) had a c-section, went to Ueno Zoo with three kids and a base tour group, lost toddler Laurie (and found her sitting at a zoo picnic table with a Japanese family eating a rice ball!), put toys on "layaway" at the exchange and fretted over being able to pay them out before Christmas, found a scrawny Christmas tree shipped over from California to the base in Japan and decorated it heavily to fill in the bare spots where all the needles had fallen off...

Had a nursing newborn and a two-year-old with double pneumonia and begged the pediatrician to let me treat her at home rather than hospitalize her because the Dollahon grandparents were there to help me medicate her, fretted that at the exchange there were NO manila envelopes and Winston NEEDED manila envelopes on the ship, gave a baby shower for a wonderful dear neighbor, Mary Keeton, who I miss to this day - accepted the marvelous "gift" of a Japanese housemaid who came every Tuesday from 9:00- 4:00 for $17 my in-laws paid for, so that I could take one child alone with me for MAMA TIME while Fumiko-san (aged 55 and I thought that she was ANCIENT!) tended the other two and fed them odon noodles with chopsticks...

Wrote sheeves of letters to my parents and in-law parents which this day are the basis of actual journaling of our lives in the early 1980's! Wow! It's better to have gone through all that and emerged fairly triumphant than not to have been challenged at all! Talked to a second grade teacher at the elementary school right across the street to find out that Walker was bright and delightful, went on a preschool base bus tour with Laurie's class and led the singing of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round"...had someone at the commissary (grocery store) mistake Sean for a girl because of the pretty curls at the nape of his neck...stood on the corner of our lot wearing a blue wrap-around skirt my mother-in-law had made and sent to me and realized that all the horn beeps and "Whoooo!" calls by sailors was because the wind had blown the skirt OPEN at the back! Sheeeesh...who wears a slip under a wrap-around skirt?

This is life. Gotta love it!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You got a dog?

I have been trying to catch up on a lot of household work and in the evening I am reading TONS of letters out of a big carton I have collected for, congrats cards my parents got when I was born, a letter from my parents to me when I was at summer camp in 1960...TONS of letters between Winston and I when he was in the Navy of course.

In one written August 28, 1977 (weeks before his fourth birthday) Walker and I were in Houston; I quote my letter to Winston ~

At Aunt Cyn's in Rockport, he crossed over to their neighbor's yard, to meet some boys. His opening remark wasn't, "Hi - my name's Walker", or anything so civil.

Instead he blurted,

"You got doo-doo in your yard. You got a dog?"

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On becoming a grandmother

I was struck with the urgency to call Winston and tell him that our son and daughter-in-law were about to become parents - that every day! We must rush to the hospital!

On the way there we mused about how amazing it was that all the revolutions in our lives together had culminated in this astounding event. WE were about to become grandparents!
I don't know if others feel old when they become someone's grandparent, but I felt foolishly young! I felt amazed (just as I do, alas, when I take a good long look in the mirror these days). It seems I had so recently ceased in the active rearing of my own children, with barely a breather in between - and here I was a member of the Granny club! Wow!

Naturally my thoughts turned to my own grandparents, the only set I ever knew - my mother's parents. Nanny, that beloved old lady, walked with a wobble, wore calico dresses with an apron that went over her head, and wrung the necks of chickens while I watched in stunned but fascinated silence behind the chicken wire fence in their yard. She wore her very very long still dark hair plaited in twin buns which were secured on either side of her head with pins she kept in a saucer on her dresser beside the statuary of saints holding rosaries. Her hands trembled when she served Papa coffee in a cup on a saucer, so that the tinkling noise signaled that it might be time to sit down and eat something, too. Rice pudding, hopefully...with plump raisens and again the sounds I recall forever...that squiiiiiiish as the spoon sank into the fragrant warm concoction. She had a very soft lap and little growths on her eyelids I asked her about all the time (shameful and merciless, the curiosities of children). She was slow and plump and sweet beyond measure....could I ever be a grandmother as wonderful as mine?

Missy sat in the hospital bed with her hair sleek and brushed and glossy as if she just might be getting ready to go someplace nice. I suppose she was about to go someplace nice...into the land of Motherhood, from whence no traveler ever returns.

I stood anxiously and awkwardly as her own mother touched her face, made soothing noises, and Missy began to feel the pain like no other. She finally expressed a tear and yet never ever made complaint or became beligerant like some women on the Baby Story do, but welcomed her firstborn son into the world with grace as my own firstborn son watched in that age-old paternal dismay.....

Done! I was a grandmother! Me?

There lay a creamy-skinned little boy, blinking at the lights, mewling softly, his arms flung up beside his head as if to say, I give up Mr. Robber! Take my money!

Such irresistible submission, neediness and beauty!

Happy fourth birthday, Shepherd! We love you!

Mimi and Granddaddy