Everything GenX Knows, We Learned From Weird Sesame Street Videos

The best thing happened yesterday morning. I opened up my Facebook feed to find my friend Emily had randomly posted this old Sesame Street video of how crayons are made. If you grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, you know EXACTLY which video I’m talking about. It was amazing to lay eyes on it again after all these years. And of course, it took me down a rabbit hole of watching other old Sesame Street videos that, despite being dormant for decades, were able to come to the forefront of my memory with a readiness that was both comforting and eerie. As the words to the songs fell easily from my lips, and the images put me right back to being in front of a rabbit-eared television set, I marveled at how so much of my childhood could be encompassed in a few video segments. And how my entire generation was molded by these sights, sounds, and concepts. Continue reading “Everything GenX Knows, We Learned From Weird Sesame Street Videos”

Fluid: The Mirage of Beginnings and Endings

Despite what their names suggest, beginnings and endings are fluid. Nothing ever really begins…or ends.

Today has been a bit of a landmine of emotion. My grandma turns 87, just two days after being put on hospice. The symbols of her beginning and end being so close to one another is not lost on me.

Similarly this afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to take the kids back to our first home, almost 12 years to the day we moved in, and 8 years to the day we moved out. Again, the timing was not lost on me. It was the place where my daughter Grace spent the first two years of her life, and a house my son Michael never knew. Much of it was exactly as we had left it, down to the paint on the walls. It made me homesick, wanting to go back to those moments in my life that had passed. How easily I could put myself right back there…remembering how the boxwoods smelled as we worked in the yard…reading the Sunday paper while having breakfast in the tiny dining room…putting groceries away in the cramped, galley kitchen…seeing a toddler-sized, fluffy-haired Grace sitting on the floor of the living room watching Sesame Street with toys strewn around her…PhotoGrid_1433110505309

Then I turned around and saw the reality of now: this beautiful young woman with feet bigger than mine, who had no real memories at all of the house, despite the fact that I could picture her in every single corner of it. And next to her was this 6-year-old boy with kangaroo legs, sliding around on hardwood floors his chubby little baby knees never crawled on. We moved out of that house so we would have more room to bring Michael into our lives. How odd to be standing in this place with him where he never existed, if only in our dreams for the future.

It almost took my breath away how quickly life had changed in a matter of 8 years…how, standing within those walls of our first home, it felt like the beginnings of our marriage and parenthood seemed like yesterday. Yet a second later, it felt like a lifetime ago as I gazed upon my kids, who didn’t fit in this house at all: one because she was just too grown up to match the memory, the other because he was simply in existence. All the longing to be back in those days for even a moment vanished, for I realized my story couldn’t have gone the way it was supposed to if we hadn’t left that house. And leaving wasn’t really an end, but a beginning of something new, something better. Moreover, I discovered how easily I could make what was over seem like it wasn’t.

I hope that is what is happening for my grandma right now. It is as if her dementia has her in a state a bit like the one I was in as I walked through the rooms of my old house. She is living in moments of her life that are over, moments where sometimes her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren don’t even exist. Then every now and again, she is jarred into the present. Despite her failing condition, I would like to think she has points of clarity when she knows we are all here, that the way her life played out was good. Very good. And just as my husband and I will one day have to leave the house we live in now, the one that will always be known as the place where we raised our family, my grandma is facing another move…her final move.

I believe within the deepest chambers of my heart she will be moving on to a place where she doesn’t ever have to nostalgically wish to live in a moment that has passed, or feel as if life is being lived too quickly. She can be cognizant of every person she has loved. She can walk the rooms of any house she ever adored, sit in the desks of any school she ever attended, eat at any restaurant she ever held special, and sit on any Irish hill she ever dreamed of…all at the same moment. She won’t have to experience life in one-second increments. She can be in all the moments, all the time. Her end here with us will be the beginning of hopefully everything for her.

In a word, it will be fluid.

I'm pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there...
I’m pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there…

•••

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Fluid

Despite what their names suggest, beginnings and endings are fluid. Nothing ever really begins…or ends.

Today has been a bit of a landmine of emotion. My grandma turns 87, just two days after being put on hospice. The symbols of her beginning and end being so close to one another is not lost on me.

Similarly this afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to take the kids back to our first home, almost 12 years to the day we moved in, and 8 years to the day we moved out. Again, the timing was not lost on me. It was the place where my daughter Grace spent the first two years of her life, and a house my son Michael never knew. Much of it was exactly as we had left it, down to the paint on the walls. It made me homesick, wanting to go back to those moments in my life that had passed. How easily I could put myself right back there…remembering how the boxwoods smelled as we worked in the yard…reading the Sunday paper while having breakfast in the tiny dining room…putting groceries away in the cramped, galley kitchen…seeing a toddler-sized, fluffy-haired Grace sitting on the floor of the living room watching Sesame Street with toys strewn around her…PhotoGrid_1433110505309

Then I turned around and saw the reality of now: this beautiful young woman with feet bigger than mine, who had no real memories at all of the house, despite the fact that I could picture her in every single corner of it. And next to her was this 6-year-old boy with kangaroo legs, sliding around on hardwood floors his chubby little baby knees never crawled on. We moved out of that house so we would have more room to bring Michael into our lives. How odd to be standing in this place with him where he never existed, if only in our dreams for the future.

It almost took my breath away how quickly life had changed in a matter of 8 years…how, standing within those walls of our first home, it felt like the beginnings of our marriage and parenthood seemed like yesterday. Yet a second later, it felt like a lifetime ago as I gazed upon my kids, who didn’t fit in this house at all: one because she was just too grown up to match the memory, the other because he was simply in existence. All the longing to be back in those days for even a moment vanished, for I realized my story couldn’t have gone the way it was supposed to if we hadn’t left that house. And leaving wasn’t really an end, but a beginning of something new, something better. Moreover, I discovered how easily I could make what was over seem like it wasn’t.

I hope that is what is happening for my grandma right now. It is as if her dementia has her in a state a bit like the one I was in as I walked through the rooms of my old house. She is living in moments of her life that are over, moments where sometimes her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren don’t even exist. Then every now and again, she is jarred into the present. Despite her failing condition, I would like to think she has points of clarity when she knows we are all here, that the way her life played out was good. Very good. And just as my husband and I will one day have to leave the house we live in now, the one that will always be known as the place where we raised our family, my grandma is facing another move…her final move.

I believe within the deepest chambers of my heart she will be moving on to a place where she doesn’t ever have to nostalgically wish to live in a moment that has passed, or feel as if life is being lived too quickly. She can be cognizant of every person she has loved. She can walk the rooms of any house she ever adored, sit in the desks of any school she ever attended, eat at any restaurant she ever held special, and sit on any Irish hill she ever dreamed of…all at the same moment. She won’t have to experience life in one-second increments. She can be in all the moments, all the time. Her end here with us will be the beginning of hopefully everything for her.

In a word, it will be fluid.

I'm pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there...
I’m pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there…

•••

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I Used to Know This House

Last week, my grandparents’ old house went on the market. It has been inhabited by another family for almost twenty years now, yet every time I drive by it, I still think of it as Grandma and Grandpa’s house…despite the many renovations. My mom, my aunt and I decided to go to the open house, to see what had changed and what had stayed the same. And perhaps just to be there one last time, now that my Grandpa is gone and my Grandma is mostly lost within her own mind. The following is my reflection on that experience.

As I turned the familiar door knob, I could almost picture the sign on the door that said, “Back Door Guests Are Best.” It was the exact same door knob that squeaked a bit. The one I had turned so many times before. The one that opened up to the small galley kitchen, the sound of KMOX talk radio, the smell of Virginia Slims, and the sight of Grandma drinking her instant coffee or Grandpa reading the paper. But this time, the door opened up to a scene totally unfamiliar to me. Continue reading “I Used to Know This House”

Remember the Time We Ran Out of Memories?

My daughter thinks I am very old. I know this because she tells me all.the.time.

However, I am only thirty-six. And I feel like I am running out of memories about which to write. Or maybe I really AM getting old and just can’t remember them anymore.out_of_memory

Either way, that spells disaster for the weekly Remember the Time Blog Hop that Emily of The Waiting and I have been co-hosting for months now. Luckily, we have formed a disaster preparedness task force team (which is basically me and Em chatting over Skype while she simultaneously tries to keep her daughter from Continue reading “Remember the Time We Ran Out of Memories?”

“That” Pitcher

This week for the Remember the Time Blog Hop we are talking about our first day of school. Any grade or stage will do. AND I have a guest co-host this week, Rob from Growing Up On Prytania. Rob’s blog is a perfect fit for the blog hop, as he has a very distinct “Wonder Years” feel to all of his writing. In fact, I can practically hear Daniel Stern narrating his posts as a grown-up Kevin Arnold. So please make sure to visit Rob’s blog here, and give him an RTT high-five!

After reading Rob’s blog, head over to see my usual partner-in-crime, Continue reading ““That” Pitcher”