Tag Archives: family

In Loving Memory of Papaw

I found out this morning that my grandfather died a little over a month ago. I may write a separate post explaining why I wasn’t informed, but for now I would just like to pay tribute to my grandfather who I loved and thought of often despite what certain other “family” members may think.

My grandfather was a kind and gentle man, dedicated to his family and, yes, to his god. I watched him preach on numerous occasions, and his passion was evident to me even as a young child. I sat in the very front row of the tiny rural church where he was Pastor, watching in awe and singing my heart out when the time came to do so.

When visiting Papaw at his home in Mississippi, he was always the first one up in the morning. I’m sure he rose before the sun to pray while the grandchildren were still sleeping and the house was quiet. When I finally awoke, I would find him sitting in his favorite chair, Bible open on his lap. He would look up and smile, welcoming me with a cheerful (Mississippi-accented) greeting: “Mornin’, Glory!”

I went to stay with Mamaw and Papaw when I was thirteen. I’d been having trouble at home and in school, and my grandparents welcomed me into their home as a sort of safe haven. It wasn’t long before I had inadvertently started running with the wrong crowd and Papaw was none too pleased.

One afternoon, I was standing outside his house talking with a couple of boys, one of whom I knew from school. The other didn’t go to school anymore. My grandfather came out, grabbed me by the arm and marched me inside the house.

“You’re hurting me”, I protested.

“Not as much as those two will”, he calmly replied.

The next time I tried to speak to the boys, neither of them wanted anything to do with me. After sending me to my room that day, Papaw had gone back outside and caught up to the boys, who had wasted no time in getting out of there. He warned them both that if they ever came near his granddaughter again, he would kill them, and that no one in that town would believe the Baptist preacher had done such a thing.

It worked!

While I would never condone such threats, I later realized that Papaw was only trying to protect me. Oh, I was livid at the time, but what I didn’t know, and Papaw did, was that the two boys were heavily involved in drugs, including dealing, and had frequent run-ins with the law. He just didn’t want to see me go down the same path. That certainly doesn’t excuse what he did, but it explains it in a way that any parent or grandparent might understand.

Papaw was one of the few men in my life who I didn’t fear (I even feared my own father). I always felt safe when Papaw was around. He wasn’t going to hurt me, or let anyone else do so. He risked his own safety as well as his reputation when he confronted those boys, but none of that was as important to him as protecting me at the time.

Over the years, circumstances beyond my control lead to a distancing between my grandparents and me. Mamaw died more than twenty years ago, and there had been no contact for several years prior to her death.

I often greet my son in the mornings with, “Mornin’ Glory!” I think of Papaw every time I say it. This morning, as I came to Bonnie for my morning hug, I said it to her. I then explained where it had come from, and wondered aloud if my grandfather was still alive. She asked his name and looked it up on the internet where we discovered his obituary. Papaw died a little over a month ago, June 29, 2009.

He used to sit on his front porch and sing. I always enjoyed sitting with him, singing along if I knew the words, and listening if I didn’t. One of my favorite songs to sing with my grandfather was Church in the Wildwood. To this day, despite my views on religion, I sometimes find myself humming or singing it softly to myself. It still brings back warm and happy memories of the few short visits I had with Papaw.

So, I dedicate the following song to the loving memory of my grandfather, Reverend Charles Donald Fitzgibbon (March 10, 1923 – June 29, 2009)


Help!

So, I decided to have a couple of drinks last night. I wasn’t terribly drunk, but I was feeling good. Bonnie and I were listening to The Beatles, who we both love. I thought I’d share this amusing exchange:

Lottie: Which movie did they sing Help in?

Bonnie: Help.

Lottie: Yeah.

Bonnie: Help.

Lottie: Uh huh.

Bonnie: The name of the movie is Help.

Lottie: [cracks up laughing like a total dork] See, you can’t talk to me about these things while I’m doing this. [motions to glass of Jameson on the rocks]

OK, so maybe you had to be there.

Anyway, the song has been playing in my head all day, and it occurred to me how perfectly appropriate it actually is right now. So it is with deep love and gratitude that I dedicate this song to my best girlfriend and sister of my heart.


A Family of Friends

You’ll find there’s a family of friends living here,
A small group of minds, and of hearts;
With some of us clever and some of us not,
At times you can’t tell us apart.

There’s one who is cranky, and one who is shy,
And one who is really uncouth;
And just when you think you’ve discovered who’s who,
You’ll really uncover the truth.

The truth that we’re all just a little of each,
A group of imperfects are we
And sometimes I might criticize them to you,
But don’t ever knock them to me.

‘Cause the one thing that ties us together for life-
no matter how far we’re apart,
Is love for each other, a family of friends
A small group of minds, and of hearts.

Judy Blume


If I Believed In Angels

So, it was, in fact, my last night in Texas. We left last Tuesday morning and arrived in the Twin Cities around supper time on Wednesday. We were a day earlier than expected, catching Bonnie off guard, but she was gracious and welcoming, and we’re both very happy to be here.

In Heart of Gold, Bonnie wrote about how the idea for this relocation transpired. She had asked her husband, Dale, how he felt about having us stay here for an extended period, and he was fine with it. Then, without any prompting from Bonnie, he came up with a plan to fly to Texas, rent a moving truck, load us up and drive back to Minnesota. Dale took off an entire week from work, and sandwiched all this between two business trips.

I think it’s very much worth mentioning that, not only did Dale do all this out of the kindness of his heart, he never once gave any indication that it was the slightest bit of trouble. There is no doubt in my mind that he was tired, jet-lagged and missing his lovely wife with whom he had shared a few brief moments before heading off to Texas, but despite all that, he was pleasant, patient and kind to my son and me throughout the entire two-day journey.

These past few days have been very nice. I have enjoyed spending time with my best friend and chosen sister, and getting to know her dear husband. These two people are the kindest, most generous and compassionate people I have ever known.

It’s important to keep in mind that my son and I are not the only ones in transition here. This is a big adjustment for Bonnie and Dale as well. Not only are they sharing their home with two other people, one of those people is (very nearly) a twelve-year old boy with quite a lot of energy. He is also going through the (quite normal for his age) process of testing the boundaries of his new surroundings, which can be somewhat trying, even for his dear ol’ mom who loves him more than anything. Still, these two wonderful people have been comendably patient and understanding. They have treated us both with love and compassion, and continue to make us feel as though this is exactly where we belong.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to thank them properly. I only hope that they both know how very much they are appreciated, not only by my son and me, but by Mike as well. It’s difficult for him, knowing that all this is happening and being too far away to get right in there and help with the nuts and bolts of it all. Knowing that we are now surrounded by people who truly have our best interests at heart gives him a peace of mind that he wouldn’t otherwise have. It is a priceless gift to Mike, knowing that his wife and son are safe and happy in his absence.

If I believed in angels, I would wonder where Bonnie and Dale were hiding their wings.

The house is lovely! We each have our own rooms and bathroom — we’ve been made more than comfortable. I am surrounded by books in my room (that’s what heaven would be like, I’m sure) and my eyes were immediately drawn to The God Delusion which I am now reading for the first time, and loving every minute.

The backyard is a wooded area where deer and other critters frequently walk right up to the back of the house. I’ve already seen up to six deer at once. It’s amazing to behold, and brings a feeling of tranquility.

Yesterday, we were given a tour of the Twin Cities. It’s very nice, and there are only about six miles between downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneappolis. Since the city buses run between them, working in either city is a viable option.

John will not start school until next Monday. The first order of business is to get him settled in there, and possibly find an after-school program of some kind for when I start working again. In the mean time, I will be applying to jobs online (Bonnie has emailed me a list of places) and see about registering with the Minnesota Workforce so I can start receiving my unemployment compensation. The Workforce also has a variety of good resources and programs for people in my situation.

Before signing off, I mustn’t neglect to mention that I am also reading How To Talk Minnesotan. It’s a guide for visitors (and new-comers) to learn the language and mannerisms of Minnesota, so as to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.

From Lesson 2: The Power of the Negative:

— “Oh great, just wonderful, terrific. I love it!”

Get that excited about something in Minnesota and you might as well paste a bumper sticker to your forehead that says I’M NOT FROM AROUND HERE. […]

Minnesotans perfer to express their positive feelings throught the use of negatives, because it naturally levels things out. […]

If you just got married or bought a late-model pickup under book price with low mileage and hardly any rust, or it’s dawn on opening day of the duck season, a Minnesotan would say

— “I would’t want you to think I’m not happy.”

That’s a strong statement here.

So, in closing, and in keeping with this lesson: it’s not too bad here, it could be worse, I can’t complain and I wouldn’t want you to think I’m not happy.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


Happy New Year!

I guess I’d better make my New Year’s post before the clock rolls over.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately. School starts next week and I’m trying to put together a workable homeschool curriculum. There’s no shortage of sources, but reviewing them and finding the right ones can be very time consuming.

Of course, I also have to work, keep up with the housework, make sure we’re both fed and still make time to relax and laugh with my sweet pea. It’s a challenge, but we’ll work together and get it done.

We’re very excited about homeschooling! I believe I’ve found the perfect science curriculum; it’s from Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI). We’ll start with a unit called Nature of Science. It teaches what science is and is not, discusses the limits of science and corrects misconceptions about it, and eventually leads to a study of human evolution.

I’m really looking forward to this course of study.

My son also wants to study the American Revolution. I’m pretty sure I’ll use BBC History as a guide, but if anyone knows of other good sources for teaching this subject, please post a link in comments. I need to put the lesson together over the weekend, so I’ll take all the help I can get.

Everything else is coming together nicely. This year is going to be great!

  • We’ll get Mike’s immigration taken care of and we can finally live as a family on the same continent!
  • I have made a wonderful friend who is more like the big sister I never had, and I look forward to the continued growth of that relationship.
  • Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States.
  • We’re happy, healthy and loved.

Happy New Year, readers, friends and loved ones. May we continue to grow, learn, share and laugh together.

Peace and happiness to you all!

Sincerely,
Lottie

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


Barack Obama’s Grandmother Died

HONOLULU – Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86. Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

They said: “She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.”

Obama learned of her death Monday morning while he was campaigning in Jacksonville, Fla. He planned to go ahead with campaign appearances. The family said a private ceremony would be held later.

Associated Press

This is absolutely heartbreaking. She’ll never get to see him become President. My heart goes out to Barack Obama and his family. Tomorrow’s victory will be bittersweet for them all.


Feedback Requested

I received an email from my son’s Mulitmedia teacher. I find it disturbing for several reasons, and wonder if some of you would tell me what you think. First, here’s the email:

Hello Ms. [Rambleson],
I had a situation/ conversation with [John] today because he called two students names. [John] informed me that the first student– he was not talking to but the second student claimed that [John] called him stupid. I told [John] to go stand outside, this is where we talk to students about things we do not wish to share with the class in the portables because the AC is very loud– the good and the bad. He asked me why several times before doing so. This is a great question and I was more than happy to answer that for him but not in front of the class– which I told him once we were outside. I didn’t think our conversation was appropriate for the whole class because when I speak with [John] and another student, [John] tends to argue instead of talking about it so it turns into a mess instead of a productive situation.

For the remainder of class, I asked [John] if he would sit at a different table (without any students at it) so he could finish his work.

I spoke to the entire class on Friday about STEM core values (Respecting each other and “name calling”) and our expectations for our students in this program.

[John] told me that he is going to request to take Art instead. To do this he needs to go to the counselor, however, we expect STEM core values to be upheld in all of our classes.

I wanted to speak with you about this and hopefully together we can come up with a solution that will be easy to implement within a 45 minute period. I would like [John] to be part of the solution, as well, but I do not think we were ready for that today (due to time constraints).

Thank you for your time,
[Name withheld]

To begin with, I find this barely coherent. I’ve read it several times, and I’m still not sure what she’s asking me to do. It’s unsettling to see this quality of writing and communication from one of my son’s teachers, especially one whose whole job is based around communications.

The most I can gather is that John called another kid stupid and she dealt with it. So why is she writing to me about it? If a middle school teacher is so fragile that she needs to call in the troops over a little bickering between preteen students, I contend that she needs to seek employment elsewhere.

As to John being argumentative, I concede that he can be that way. I also know that it is quite normal for boys his age. That’s not to say that it’s OK, or that there shouldn’t be consequences, and I do not condone his arguing with teachers. I only say this to point out, once again, that this particular teacher seems ill-equipped to work with children my son’s age. Furthermore, while I admit to his being argumentative at times, I hardly call it making “a mess” of things.

John asked me last night if I think he’s a “screw up”. It broke my heart. I certainly hope he’s not getting that kind of message from his teachers.

After reading through the email several times, I can’t help wondering if the “mess” might be partly a result of this particular teacher’s inability to communicate effectively and take charge.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not the kind of parent who thinks her kid can do no wrong. I’m big on taking responsibility and making John do the same. But I know my son and I’m familiar enough with this teacher to suspect that perhaps not all the responsibility for the “mess” belongs to John.

I welcome honest feedback on this. I want help, not coddling.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On