Tag Archives: family

Grandfather’s Toys

I don’t remember much about my great grandfather. I was young when he passed away and we had moved away quite some time before that. I know he came from Germany with my great grandmother, whom I have no recollection of. And they probably came in through Ellis Island as I believe that is where most people from Europe entered the country at that time. To be honest, there is almost nothing that I know about my grandfather except a few small or possibly significant things. I know he had a bushy white mustache because I remember it and have seen pictures of it. Much like the mustache Mark Twain is often pictured with. Maybe that is why my heart is filled with fondness at a picture of Mr. Twain in his later years. My grandfather told stories, though I don’t remember them, but they must have been grand because I was told I would actually sit still when he told me one, even when he would shift between German and English. I suppose the language doesn’t matter if the story is told well enough.

He sang me songs too. Mostly in German. I wonder if he had as much of a problem holding a tune as I do. But, if he did, that didn’t keep me from listening to him. Maybe it was the joy that sets into a person’s spirit when they are singing. It lifts the fog from the air and can tease a smile from even a fall of tears.

But, the one thing that remember distinctly was his toys! My grandfather collected toys. Not just any toys. But, the wonderful wind up, popping, whirling, spinning, clickety-clack babes in wonderland kind of toys. He had circus animals and carnival acrobats and one man bands. Charlie’s Chocolate Factory and Mary Poppins and the Wonder Emporium and scattered about on shelves and tables. And he would bring them out and show them to us, wind them up and send them to come to life before us. Oh how I loved those toys! I never wanted to leave that room full of whirling gears and cymbals and ratta-tat-tats of the mechanical circus.

One Christmas, he gave each of us one of the mechanical banks. I remember mine to this day. It had a little monkey that would spin and clash its cymbals when you dropped a coin into the slot. I put every coin I could find, even to sneaking ones that weren’t mine, just to watch the little monkey dance for the offering. My brother was not so impressed with his and I think it got stuck at the back of a shelf. We never did seem to share the same likes in anything, even at a young age, so that was not so surprising. Mine, was my greatest treasure though. I couldn’t wait for the next time to go and see Grandpa and hoped he would at some time give me another of his marvelous toys.

I’m not really sure how much time passed between getting that bank from Grandpa and when he passed, but I don’t remember that there were many more times that we saw him. It could be that we had moved too far away by then, or it could be that he passed shortly after. And though my memories of him are very few, I can see that the impression he left on me was far greater than would be thought.

He was the earliest storyteller that I remember, him and my own father. They both taught me that time just seems to slow while a good yarn is spun. My mother used to call my father a liar, and maybe he was, but he could tell a good story. So could my grandfather. And from them I learned the pleasure in hearing a good story and telling my own.

That one is never too old to enjoy a marvelous toy. My grandfather played with his menagerie till the day he died. Maybe that was what kept him so young and happy till that day when he just didn’t wake up. I have no idea what happened to that amazing collection he had. I wish I had a few of them. But, I have my own collection. They may not wind up and go clickety-clack and bumpety bump, but they bring me my own special joy. They help me tell my stories and show me the spirits in the forest. I can color the grass purple and the sky green and that really is an escaped monkey from Neverland that is frozen in that field and not a moss covered stump. He brought the fairies with him from the Old World with his toys and his stories and his gardens. And he gave some of them to me.

SephiPiderWitch 11/26/2012

Let the Party and the Gifts Begin!

 Back in Phoenix and time to get ready for the party! But, firsto spend a short bit of time with Mikki’s roommate, Gilly. We got just a bit more of a close up than was intended, but I think its rather cute.
 And another one of her. This time she didn’t try and rush the camera. Her owner thinks she’s German Shepard and Terrier, but I think she’s Border Collie and Terrier. At any rate, she is just a sweetheart and gently nudges you for pets and scratches. Very well behaved and quite entertaining!

 First Bling of the night. Sparkly bracelet that actually fits Mikki’s small wrists. Quite a present for a 12 year old! We have such fun with her being a leap year baby. I try very hard to remember on the off years to set my alarm for midnight to call her and wish her a very merry unbirthday!
So appropriate for Mikki! Lots of pink! And its cute and quirky.  
I’m thinking that she likes it! And maybe someday she will forgive me for this shot! Well, what fun is there in taking posed pictures of people? Its far more fun to catch them in unexpected moments! And at least I remembered to take pictures of people on this trip!

I’m thinking she doesn’t look please with someone. I didn’t do it! I have an alibi! I was holding the camera. Oh wait! Maybe that was it!
Fire!!!! I do so love fire!
Wasn’t sure if I was going to catch the sparks shooting out, but I got lucky. I’m not too fond of the delay on the camera. Well, that’s what I get for having to take the little one instead of the good one.
More sparks and sputters!! Wheee!!! I could spend all night here by the fire!
Pretty flame!
 Mikki and the boys. From left to right, Justin (one of Mikki’s adopted boys and soon to be father), Mikki, Jimmy and Nyle. Justin went off earlier in the evening to drag Jimmy and Nyle over. I could have smacked them for needing someone to drag them to their mother’s 12th birthday. Its not like she gets one every year like the rest of us.
All of them again, same order. You’d think they could have mixed it up a bit!
And the birthday serenade by Angela! That woman has quite the voice on her!
And the passing of the flaming cake. At least you save on the candle expense with the leap years! grin
I guess it was necessary for me to be at the receiving end of at least one of the pictures, if for no other reason than to show that I really was there!
Here we have Mikki with her love, Jerry. I think she made a good choice in this one. I like him!
Back to the fire! Kinda knew I couldn’t stay away from it for long. And it did get me away from the guy who seemed to be under the delusion that I was just “playing” coy and if he tried harder, he could wear me down and I would succumb to his self-perceived “charms”. Yeah, Mikki tried to warn him. And he thought I was kidding when I told him I BITE!
But, doesn’t the flame on this fire look like an Indian in full garb doing a ceremonial dance?
And he turned to face his partner here!  Oh, wait!  That’ a square dance.  Never mind!
And the Griffon overlord!!!
And as a finale for the night, Mikki asked Angela to sing her On a Broken Wing. Thought she could sing before, but this was so very impressive!

Over the Hills and Down the road to Grandaughter’s House we Go!

 And the sun is beginning a slow descent in the sky as we continue to travel on the forever road to Laughlin. But, the colors of the clouds are changing and taking on the softest pastel shades. Quite lovely!

The lavender haze to the sky settles in and brings you to the realization that no matter how skilled the hand, no artist can compete with the brush of the Divine.

 The road is long, with many a winding turn!! Oh wait, not so many turns, but it is quite long.
And I am quite certain that the strokes of the brush Lady Mother Nature applied here was her way of wishing a most happy 12th to Mikki. She even painted most of it in her favorite color, pink. Though I still wonder how I wound up with a best friend whose favorite color is pink!
 And we have arrived! And in time to spend a bit of time with Mikki’s daughter Heather. She is such a beautiful young lady!
 Yeah, I would have a look like that on my face as well if I was under an electric dunce cap! snicker
 Okay, fine. I’ll smile.  Kinda.
 And as we go to breakfast the next morning, we make our way past the “feed me” fish. I’m thinking the guests indulge them just a wee bit. They’re pretty though.
 At granddaughter’s house we have now arrived. And like any good Grandmother, Mikki came bearing offerings. Bubbles!!! Evalyn was a bit shy when we first got there. That is, until she discovered the bubbles. Then we became her playtoys.
 It took her a little while to figure it out, but she got the bubble blowing down like a champ in no time. There’s a child after my own heart. Just give her bubbles and she’s happy!
This was the first time I got to meet Evalyn. She is just precious! I love the look on her face in this one.  Only children are capable of that level of pure joy!  We had such fun with her. Was worth the 3+ hour drive each way to see her. Well, the casino was fun too.

The Vows We Make

In the news today is Washington ratifying the rights for gays to marry.  It awaits just a single signature, and one that has been promised will be given.  As expected, a fire storm has erupted over this issue.  The standard argument that marriage should be reserved for a single man and woman.  Its against the laws of God.  A promise that it will be protested and fought and attempt to overturn.

There was an amazing speech given by a Republican woman, Representative Maureen Walsh before the state legislature.  She speaks of the life she had with her husband, the love they had, the things they shared.  And she speaks of her daughter, who is gay and quite obviously one that she loves deeply by the passion she has in her voice as she speaks of her.  That she believes that her daughter has the right and deserves the ability to have the kind of relationship she had with her husband.  That it is just the right thing to do.

Listening to this woman speak echoes all the feelings and emotions I have on this issue.  I am not gay.  I do however have a child that is.  I have a best friend that is. I have known more than I can ever begin to count.  I have been their friend, their parent, their confidant.  And what I have found is that they are equally wanting, equally gifting, equally just as human as anyone else.

I come from a generation when gays hid safely in the closet.  Rarely was the time when you knew that a person you had spent time with was gay.  It was a time of great bias about many things.  Racial inequality, women’s right and the question of sexual freedom.  As children, we were fed a myriad of misconceptions and prejudices about anyone that was different, that dared to challenge the way things were, “had always been”, that God had decreed.

I was raised by a man that was a small town born and bred Georgia boy.  I lived on two different occasions in that rural area near where he was born.  I even remember overhearing my grandmother tell someone that I was only “technically” her grandchild, because my mother was a Yankee.  I went to schools that though they were “integrated”, they were only barely so.  The separation was there.  Held by the beliefs that had been instilled in the children by their parents and their community.  We went to the same schools together, but we kept apart.  The blacks knew their place and kept to themselves.  They didn’t cause problems, didn’t talk back, didn’t do anything to make themselves stand out in any way.  It was a time and a place where a black man didn’t walk on the same side of the street with a white woman, more yet, dare to hold her hand or touch her in any way.

By the second time we moved down to Georgia, I had pretty much lost most of my southern accent.  And I found myself in a place of being shunned for being a Yankee girl.  The blacks wouldn’t associate with me because I was white.  So, I was effectively shunned by all.  After a while, the blacks noticed that the whites had nothing to do with me other than harass me for the way I talked and befriended me.  They took a great chance opening their circles to me.  And I learned that they were no different than others.  Well, they were down there, because they were able to step past their rules and accept one that was not one of their own.

The first gay person I consciously know of having made friends with was a woman that I went to school with.  We became very close friends for a long time without me knowing that she was gay.  I was stunned when I found out about her.  I had undressed in front of her when we were trying on clothes, spent the night in the same room with her on numerous occasions.  The truth is that I felt betrayed that she hadn’t told me as I felt I should have been made aware of such things given the things we had done together.  I avoided her for a while after learning the truth.  Not sure what to do about it.  In this massive internal battle over the fact that I felt deceived and the fact that she had become one of my best friends.

She finally cornered me one day in the hallway and demanded that I talk to her.  I told her what I had been feeling.  She told me that there was never any doubt in her mind that I was all female and one that was completely heterosexual.  That she never looked at me as anything other than a friend.  She had no desire for any woman that did not share the desire to be with women.  We talked and we talked, and we laughed and we cried and we laughed some more.  And I realized that I had nothing to fear from her.  Her sexuality did not change who she was or what she was to me.  She was my friend.  None of the rest of it mattered.  She didn’t care that I was straight.  She was just my friend.

Maybe that is why I have so often bonded with people that were so very different in my life.  Because they have the ability to look past such things as skin color, sexuality, etc.  Maybe it is their difference that allows them to see past the superficial things that make most find comparisons of better or less than.  Sometimes it seems that the outcasts often have a greater capacity to love and accept.  And to ask so little in return.  They don’t ask you to share their beliefs, their color, their station.  They just rejoice when you extend your hand to them, give them a smile or wrap them in your arms in a hug.  They just want to feel that they are accepted.

I have been touched by so many of these truly beautiful people in my life.  Their differences at first seemingly so alien, so daunting.  But, they have taught me so very much.  They have allowed me to see how far my own heart is capable of opening and loving.  They have allowed me to peer into another alien realm through their eyes.  Maybe not one that I would ever want for myself.  But, I can see the love and joy they have in that world and I can rejoice that they have found a world that brings them such joy.

My own son came out to me when he was 18.  I still don’t know why he found it so hard to tell me.  Why he would even think there was a chance that it might affect how I loved him.  I have come close to understanding it after talking to another friend of mine, who is a lesbian.  She said that as much as he might have known how devoted I was to him, that he feared putting that to the test.  For, what if he was wrong and it lessened what he was to me?  That I was so very much to him and it was one of those things that one was afraid to put to the test on even the tiniest chance that you could be wrong.   That I needed to understand how very many kids are thrown out for such a revelation.  Shunned and disowned by those that were most important to them.  It didn’t matter that I could never conceive of doing such a thing to my child.  It is a fear that all who are born different harbor within them.  I understood better after listening to her.  But, it also filled me with the most immense sadness that a child, any child, should have to hold such fears.  That “my” child would have such fears.

My son is one of the most brilliant, wonderful, compassionate people I have ever known.  With both of my children, I wonder what I ever did to be given the immense gift of their being bestowed on my life.  I don’t know what or who I would be if I had not had them in my life.  They are my breath and my universe.  And they are two of the most beautiful incredible people I have ever met.  Not because they are my children.  But, because they are.  Last night, my daughter helped a total stranger on the road.  He had been missing for over a week.  He said he had been drugged and kidnapped.  I don’t know if that story is true or not.  What I know is that she helped him.  She called the authorities, she stayed with him.  And yes, she was smart enough to keep constant contact with friends  and gave them her location.  She took a great chance.  But, she did a beautiful thing.

They deserve to love and be loved in whatever way meets with their nature, that brings wholeness to their lives.  There are many that say that allowing gays to marry undermines what marriage is.  Marriage is a bond and commitment that is made between two people.  It is not something that should be subject to the influence of the world outside.  It should be a sanctuary from that world, a place of solace and trust.  The only thing that can undermine what it is is the people who make the commitment.  It is defined separately and uniquely by each when they enter into it.  It is inviolable.  It is what you believe it to be.  It is NOT what others believe it to be.  If it is in danger from outside influences, by others who choose a different definition, then it it a danger that you injected into it.

My children, my friends, have the right to whatever happiness they reach for.  So long as they are not doing harm in the process.  Their loving one of their own gender or the opposite is not harming anyone else’s definition of marriage.  They make that vow solely with the person they take the vow with.  You make it with the person you make it with.  Its between you and your beloved.  You may choose to share it with others.  But, the vow is a secret bond connecting you to that other.  Vulnerable only if you allow it to be.  Defined only by those making it.  Its not “our” vow.  We don’t have to understand.  We can make our own vows.  And if we wish the freedom to make our own vows freely, we must allow others to do the same.  They’re our children, our friends.  We must allow them to find their happiness.  That’s what love is.