Tag: living

What Sort of Grandma Will I Be?

In April 2019, I’ll be a grandmother. *screams, jumps around room*

*Smooths hair* I’ve given up on the idea that I’m too young to be a grandma. I mean, people still gasp when I tell them the age of my kids, and as long as that continues, I think it’s safe to embrace the joy of being a grandma.

Because I had a grandma who rocked my world. I am a writer because of her encouragement. Apparently my Roman nose comes from her, and so does my strangely long second toe.

When I was six, she moved away and became my first pen pal. Yes, that used to be a thing before there was a World Wide Web that made such an idea obsolete.

I want to be involved in my grandchild’s life.

But what does that mean?

Grandma Next Door

Before we had kids, my husband and I bought our first house. It was down the block from his parents’ house and the place he’d grown up.

I was more than a little nervous about this. I wondered if he parents would be over all the time, interfering, trying to tell us how to do things.

And then I had kids. Mine weren’t the first grandchildren, but I still feared the worst.
It never came to pass.

My inlaws were respectful of our privacy and space. They rarely dropped by unannounced, and we truly didn’t see them any more frequently than we had when we lived across town.

My mom lived up the road a few miles and worked down the street. I didn’t see her at my house all the time either.

So, I tell myself that just because I live close to the grandkids doesn’t mean I will see them every day.

But, these grandparents did show up to Saturday soccer games and weeknight t-ball games. If there were school concerts, they attended. Eventually, there were high school events, and they tried to be supportive of those, too.

That’s what I want for my grandkids. I want them to know I’m proud of their accomplishments and I support their dreams.

Commuting Grandma

Can I be proud and supportive if I live an hour or more away?

I think that’s a definite YES as long as my health allows it. If my heredity plays its role, I should have at least twenty years of healthy days ahead. That sees me through their high school years, for sure.

I could drive an hour on a weeknight to attend a concert or play. It wouldn’t be a hardship to drive that far on Saturday to watch a soccer game (although I’d prefer to watch just about any other sport over soccer).

What if we moved further away? What if the “commute” was three or four hours? Would I still be available to support their activities?


Visiting Grandma’s House

The truth is, I loved visiting Grandma’s house. I loved baking with her (and it wasn’t all about licking the beaters) and playing games with her.

This is the grandmother I want to be. Oh, and the jury is still out on the special grandma name, but I’m leaning toward “Lolly” and my husband could be “Pop.” Then the kids could say, “We’re going to Lollypop’s house!”

In this day when kids are SO involved in activities, will my grandkids want to spend time at my house?

The bigger concern for me: if I live too far away, will I make it impossible for them to do so?

Yes, I think my husband and I should plan our retirement according to our dreams. But we didn’t have children so we would never see them or spend time with them.

I’ve enjoyed having the monthly game nights with my kids. I’d love to see that continue with grandkids, teaching them to play rummy and cribbage. Of course there will be Chutes and Ladders and Sorry. Some games are too classic to pass up.
I won’t see them every day. I doubt we’ll ever live “down the block.”

Friends of ours said they LOVE living three hours away because when they go to see the grandkids, it can be a special trip and devoted to total grandkid time. It makes the visits special.

Is that a truism I can count on?

Even after my grandmother moved two states away, I still considered her a loving and involved grandma. In this day of Facetime and Skype, I’m sure I could check in weekly with my grandchildren.

But will I?

We’d planned to do the same with our adult kids, but their work schedules don’t mesh with ours. And they’re busy with their lives. Will it really be different when kids come?

What are your thoughts? What sort of relationship did you have with your grandparents? What kind of grandma do kids these days want?

Something for Everyone in I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

Once you pick up this book from Julie Hunt, skip right to chapter 25 and you’ll see why a review of it appears on my “No Fear This Year” blog. I’M ABOUT TO GET UP is a memoir about grief written from a Christian perspective, but it has nuggets of truth to help anyone who wrings their hands when faced with death.

You’re at the funeral, next in line. The family stands there, red-rimmed eyes glistening with tears, hugging each person in turn. What will you say?

I’ll confess that I avoided a number of funerals in my younger years just because I couldn’t imagine how I would interact with the grieving family.

Until I was the grieving family. And I heard those cliché phrases that meant nothing or experienced the deep comfort of a wordless hug.

I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

about_to_get_up_coverThis book came to me before it released to the public. A publicist whose newsletter I follow invited me to be on the “launch team” for the book.

Since I’m intermittently writing my own grief memoir-ish book, I thought reading one would give me an idea how other approach the topic.

I’ll admit, it was difficult to read the book in December. Christmas has been a difficult time since 2009 when my grandmother graduated to Heaven a few days before the holiday.

Julie’s experiences are raw and real. She pulls you in to the Rainy Day with her and the grief she depicts resonates. It was too close to my own heart some days, so it took me a few weeks to get through the less-than-200-page book.

If you read nothing else, read the appendices. Here Julie lists all the things people want to know, the “where the rubber meets the road” practical things. Like what you can do for a grieving person, what NOT to say at the funeral (or any other time) and words that do offer help or hope.

In a world where people want to sweep the grieving process under the carpet, this book is just the dose of reality we need.

My Review

It was obvious from early in the book that Julie’s religious beliefs differed from mine. There were moments when my eyebrows scraped my scalp as I thought, “They did what?!”

Still, that’s not what this book is about. And Julie didn’t defend or expound on her specific spiritual ideals. Well, not the ones that had me gawping. The ones that had to do with facing grief head on? Yep, those she tackles.

Nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one. I speak from experience at the bedside of a terminally ill mother. When they go, you grieve. A part of you shatters and needs time and care to be repurposed.

Julie goes chronologically through her own grieving process. This approach worked well, making the book read like a novel. If you like “based on actual events” reading, this book fits that bill.

Advice and encouragement for both those struck by grief and those attempting to minister to them is sprinkled throughout the prose. You won’t find sermonizing or patronizing in these pages.

In fact, the best part of the book is the practical, pro-active lists given in the epilogue and appendices.

I give four out of five stars to this book.

My Recommendation

This book is a must-read for every person in ministry. The glimpse inside a grieving heart will offer the best hands-on training a person could get without facing an actual death in the family.

Julie admits that she couldn’t read books when she was grieving, but I think this book is the sort that could be read to a grieving person. It is certainly an exceptional handbook for someone who fumbles with how to comfort others in the face of loss.

If you’ve been grieving a loss for a while and feel like the pain is still more raw than it should be, pick up this book. I promise you’ll see yourself reflected from a page or chapter, and you’ll be able to take the next step toward healing.

Thank you, Julie Hunt, for being real with all of us. Your journey will empower others so they can get up and get back to living.

What books helped you deal with grief and loss on a practical level?

Whose story is it anyway?

In a non-parody of a comedic television show, let’s take a moment to investigate the ownership of a published work. Recently, this author has been pondering this oft-debated issue, and I’ve come up with four possibilities.

One of the co-authors in the romance anthology Accidental Valentine posted on the topic July 16, 2015. Her points made me reconsider this whole notion that a story belongs to any one person.

I hope you’ll take the time to read Wendy Sparrow’s post on this topic, as well as the comments (there were only two at the time of this writing). I won’t attempt to paraphrase what she says because I don’t want to twist her original meaning.

And there is the crux of this issue for me. How can I know Shakespeare’s intended meaning a few hundred years after his death? 

If an author is still living, and of sound mind, I suppose we could interview them to find out what they meant. However, if we assume that words can take on a life of their own when formed into a story, is the original intention even the point?

Those questions are to give you a hint how my brain arrived at the four possible owners of a story. (And I’m not talking about copyright issues because we have laws that clearly govern those.) Once a story is penned, published and consumed, does the story belong to the author, the readers, the literary community at large or the characters?

Perhaps you have a fourth alternative. I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

Author

As an author, it’s no surprise that my first thought of ownership centers on the story’s creator. Surely, the one who created it should be able to say, “That’s my story.”

As Wendy Sparrow says in her post, ” authors pour a little bit of themselves into what they write, so taking the author’s opinion away from the work might strip it of some of its value.”

I would say authors pour heart and soul into whatever piece of fiction they’re working on. And creative non-fiction based on personal experiences takes an even bigger chunk. If the author holds back, the writing lacks authenticity.

Like Hemingway said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” (Read more on the debate of the true origination of this quote here.)

However, I can’t take full credit for any of the stories I’ve created. Something in the real world sparked the idea in my brain. It originated from that little seed. To grow it, I just kept expanding on the idea, asking “what if” until I had a solid story line.

Readers

I agree with Sparrow in that I am a reader first. I love to write. I live to write (or is that I write for a living?), but my first love is reading.

Once an author releases a story into the world through publishing, it settles into the hearts and minds of readers. Some stories are in the mind only as long as it takes to read them. Others embed themselves deep in the heart, offering up reminders of characters whose attitudes and experiences shaped my own worldview.

Do I write for readers? Yes. My stories are as much for them as it is for me. If I didn’t want to share it with someone, I wouldn’t.

Does that mean I’ve relinquished ownership to them?

What does that mean? Ownership, according to dictionary.com is “the state or fact of being a person who has or holds” some object. Ownership implies possession. If I possess it, it is mine.

Once I publish the story, I have consented to share its ownership. By making it available for public consumption, I’m sharing my creation. It’s like baking a cake. Everyone who consumes a part of the cake becomes owner of its deliciousness. I can’t take it back. It’s in them.

The same with written words. Once they are consumed, they become part of the consumer. That story is now part of the reader. It might go out as quickly as the cake. Or it might stay around for awhile (like the fat on my waistline from all the cake I’ve consumed over the years).

Sparrow says it well: “Authors want readers to invest in their stories…to become so involved that they care what happens to the characters. In some ways, we want to pass on ownership of our vision to the reader so that they immerse themselves in reading. It’s the only way a book becomes more than just text and becomes a journey.”

Literary Community

Once a book is published, it’s fodder for the public. One major voice in this realm is the literary community. You know who I mean, the professors at universities and English teachers at every level.

We’ve all suffered through a lecture on symbolism in some classic story or another. We were told the blue walls represented the author’s depression. The sword was a euphemism for death or power or kingship. (How can it be all three at once?)

In her post, Sparrow cited some literary figure and his theory on “The Death of an Author” (read more here if you’re interested). He’s one of many who believes if an author didn’t infer or state something in the text, it shouldn’t be later implied to be there.

Can we hear professors of literature everywhere sobbing?

Let’s face it, stories – especially fiction – are subjective. Each of us interpret the text through the stained glass of our own experiences. And the author did the same while they wrote it.

Can a story mean more than one thing? Certainly. It can live a thousand lives in the heart or mind of anyone who reads it and gleans meaning from it.

As an author, I want people to find themselves in my stories. I want them to relate to characters who are like them and find compassion for those who are completely contrary. Some of my writing is purely for entertainment, but even a short romance story I wrote had a deeper message: “breaking free from expectations takes determination.”

Characters

This is where my mind went after I read Sparrow’s post.

I might have birthed the story. In fact, I know I labored hard to perfect it on the page. It’s my baby. Or, I should say, it’s about a bunch of my babies. I’ve given them life by writing their story down and sharing it with others.

“Dream Architect” is whose story? Ashlin’s and Dylan’s. I told their story and submitted it to a publisher. The publisher liked it and bought the first American publishing rights to it. (So maybe the publisher is the owner of the story-for three years anyway.) Readers consumed the story.

But the story is about Ashlin and Dylan. It belongs to them. They lived it (as much as a fictional character can). They experienced the accidental encounter and the turmoil that followed. I wrote their experiences down and readers learned about them through reading, but the story is Ashlin’s and Dylan’s.

What do you think? Does a story have a single owner (possessor)? Do all of these people share in ownership of a story?