Grandpa

My grandfather, Tom Lowder, died on July 9 of this year. He was born August 14, 1923, in Lake West, Oklahoma. He grew up the youngest of seven during the Great Depression, losing his father when he was only 2-years-old. He fought in World War II, earning three bronze battle stars. He raised five kids, while working for the Sohio Oil Company for 43 years, retiring in 1985.

He was a success professionally and personally. He never went to college, but he worked his way up to regional superintendent of the Sohio Oil Company. When he retired, they named a building after him.

He worked hard and played hard. He loved his family and life more than anything. Two of his other passions were music and tending his yard, both of which he indulged to his heart’s content after he retired and in his spare time before that. I like to think I inherited my love of music from him. Many people in our family love music, but he LOVED it. And so do I. Some of his favorites were the Bee Gees, Frank Sinatra, and Neil Diamond. My earliest memories are to a soundtrack of Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees, the Pointer Sisters, Wham. Grandpa had the most eclectic musical taste of any grandfather I ever knew. He loved that I liked some of his favorites, like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and would willingly lend me CDs or make copies. I always felt proud when I liked something he liked or introduced him to something new he liked. In fact, one of my proudest moments was when he told me the CD Chris and I made as a gift for out-of-town guests at our wedding was “great”. That made my day.

We also shared a love of Humphrey Bogart and old movies in general. I gave him a copy of “The African Queen” for one of his birthdays. Again, it was a proud moment, because he was hard to buy for. He invited me over to watch it with him and we watched it together on his big screen TV. I felt very lucky that, even as a college kid, I still had interests in common with Grandpa and enjoyed hanging out with him.

He was renowned for his yard, which had beautiful azaleas and crepe myrtles. He was very protective of it, to the point where most of the family was afraid to park in the driveway for fear of accidentally driving over the grass! I never risked it until I was in college.

He was meticulous about his appearance, never appearing for breakfast until he was completely dressed and ready for the day. In fact, my mom said that they had to wait to open their presents on Christmas morning until he was dressed. While I do not get dressed first thing, I like to think I take forever getting ready because I take after him. 🙂

He always made me feel so special. He was always so excited to see me and even at the end, his face still lit up when I came in the room. I talked to him on the phone for the last time three days before he died. Even though he was so weak, he still said, “Helloooo, Sara” as cheerily as he ever had.

I know he was proud of me, but I want so much to live up to being his granddaughter. I want to live life with the gusto he did, to enjoy it as much as he did. To have such a positive impact on so many lives. He is so loved and respected, so greatly missed.

I learned so much from him and I am more determined than ever to make him proud. In honor of Grandpa, I am going to love life, live it fearlessly, and never let anything break me. He never let anything break him, not the Depression, or World War II. Not even having his wife and half of his children precede him in death. He kept going through it all and his smile always came back.

I am grateful I had him for 32 years. He was at my graduations and my wedding. He knew my son Max and was there for his first Christmas and his first birthday. He knew there was going to be another baby. I am so grateful for all of that.

I wish my son and his new sibling had a chance to play with Grandpa on the floor. I wish they had known what it was like to nestle into the crook of his arm in the red leather armchair and watch the evening news and Looney Tunes. I wish he wasn’t gone.

But every time I sing, he lives.

Every time my nephew Thomas dances to Neil Diamond, he lives.

Every time I look at my son’s face, he lives.

Every time azaleas bloom, he lives.

Every time a family member retells one of Grandpa’s corny jokes, he lives.

I am the granddaughter of an extraordinary man. For the first 14 years of my life, he was a father to me as well as a grandfather. Thank you so much for your humor, your grace, and your zest for life, Grandpa. Thank you for the example you set and for your love. Thank you for everything.

Grandpa as a little boy

Grandpa as a young man

A professional photo with my grandmother. I used to stare at this for hours as a little girl.

One of Grandpa's favorite poses

Posing on the boat at Kentucky Lake

I love his smile in this one.

Leaning on Grandma

With my mom

Enjoying music with Uncle Bill and Mom

With me as a baby

Playing with me on the floor

Happy to see my Grandpa

Telling Santa (Uncle Ben) what he wants for Christmas. It was usually his two front teeth. 🙂

Celebrating his catch with Uncle Don

With my brother Chase in the red leather armchair

Cutting the cake with Tiny at their wedding reception given by the family after they eloped.

With me at my high school graduation. I don't remember why he had the neck brace.

With Chris and me at our wedding

With Max at his first Christmas

With Max at his first birthday party

Max’s law

Today was going to be simple.

But then there were three nap attempts, only one of which was successful.

A food sample was spat in to a shopping cart.

There were cherry tomatoes all over the floor of the floral department at HEB.

And I just stepped in prune that somehow escaped our cleanup after Max’s dinner.

We plan, our toddlers laugh.

 

Posting Day

Due to the whole Mom gig and the fact that I am STILL unpacking and arranging my new house (three and a half months after the move), I have not been posting much. So, I decided I must do something about that. I have certain days of the week for certain tasks, so MAYBE if I assign a day of the week to updating my blog, I will actually get it done. (Although things that are good for me that I actually enjoy often fall by the wayside. Big surprise.) I have not decided which day yet. Maybe it will be Wednesday, since today is Wednesday and that is usually a light chore night.
As I was playing with my cats tonight (Another enjoyable task that has fallen by the wayside since my son was born. Actually, since I met my husband. No wonder cat ladies are so often single.), I reflected on a topic that has amused me with its irony lately. At least, I think it’s ironic. Ever since Alanis Morissette released her “Ironic” tune and everyone picked on her so mercilessly for misusing the term, I am afraid to apply it to anything.
Before my son was born, I often experienced difficulty finding time to write my blog, play with my cats, exercise, read and, really, do much of anything besides hang out with my husband and watch TV when I wasn’t teaching or grading papers. Somehow, despite the incredible busy-ness of being a mom, I am more productive in all of these areas now. I watch less TV (but enjoy it more), I read more, I write on the blog more (the last month being an exception), I exercise well, about the same, (I’m working on that.), and I am prioritizing playing with my cats again. Not only that, I am going to swim classes and music classes, and watching things like “Sesame Street”, “Caillou”, and just plain cheesy daytime TV sometimes. I am a homebody again. I am starting to feel really happy with my life. And I think I’ve figured out one of the main reasons why.
I get to be home again. I get to take care of my home. I get to run errands and watch kiddie shows and classic sitcom reruns with my kid. I get to take walks around the neighborhood. (Well, not now in the crazy Texas summer where it’s either triple digits or a tropical storm, but come fall we’ll be back out there.) I am enjoying being a homebody, staying home when I want and going out when I want or need to. I am reliving my childhood, except I am the adult this time. Which is even better in some ways, because I can decide to go to the pool! Or the park! Or the mall or the bookstore! I don’t have to ask my mom! I AM the mom! (Sorry, Mom.)
I can’t believe I spent 20-odd years going to school, getting an advanced degree, and going from job to job, only to finally get back to where I started, the place I wanted to be all along. Home. Isn’t that the darnedest thing?

Snail mail is not dead

Why can’t I find any change-of-address cards? The last time I moved, three years ago, I found some easily at Target. Now, I could only find way over-priced (Ten for $20! Just because they can go through your printer!) ones at HEB. HELLO, SOME PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE E-MAIL. SOME PEOPLE ARE NOT ON FACEBOOK. Like my grandmother. Who sends me birthday checks. AND I JUST HAD MY BIRTHDAY.
Plus, I just think it’s polite to send cards through the mail. Maybe that’s weird, but it wouldn’t feel right not to.

Who’s really being weaned?

Well, my son has been fully weaned at seven months. I tried to do it slowly. I was planning to still nurse him in the morning and at night. It snowballed somehow. I guess we were  both just ready. He didn’t seem to be getting enough food and he was so distracted all the time that many feeding sessions had become an ordeal. Plus, he still bit me occasionally (although he had gotten much better about that).

He seems to be taking it pretty well, as far as I can tell. He accepts the bottle readily (He actually gets excited when he sees one.) and no longer gets confused and tries to go for both the breast AND bottle when I give him a bottle. I, however, am feeling a bit sad. I might still be able to go back, but I don’t think it’s the right thing. Still, the right thing isn’t always easy.

I will never breast-feed Max again. He has taken another step towards independence. I will find a way to make up for the closeness I felt when I nursed him. Until then, I am sad.

Today’s Mommy Guilt

It’s mostly Kittymomma guilt today. I feel guilty for saying, “Damn you, Fort!” when he jumped in the crib as I was trying to put Max down for a nap. Not to mention the fact that I damned him last night when he was chasing Belle around the bathroom while I was trying to get ready for bed at 12:30.

I also feel guilty for saying, “Jesus, Max, that hurt!” when he pulled my hair whilst screaming, just as I tripped over the ottoman while attempting to put him in his carrier.

Yes, Mommy can be a potty mouth. But my dad was a potty mouth and I turned out ok. Except that I’m a potty mouth.

The miracle of Thanksgiving

Chris, Max, and I went to my parents’  house in Longview, TX, for Thanksgiving. It’s roughly a four and a half hour drive from our house in Austin, but it can easily balloon to five and a half or even six when traveling with a baby. Max is still eating every three hours, but luckily, we are able to give him bottles on the road. We usually manage to make the  trip with only one stop for a feeding.

However, there was an unscheduled stop in Jacksonville, TX. Max had been fussy in the car, due to boredom and the sun getting in his eyes at times, despite my best efforts to shield them. I finally got him to sleep just as we got to Jacksonville, after many hummed renditions of Brahms’ “Lullaby”.

I was just about to tell Chris how Max had fallen asleep with one of his legs in the air when I noticed something protruding from his diaper. You see, lately, Max has started pooing only once a week. (We have told our doctor and it’s nothing to worry about.) While it is nice to have so few poopy diapers, there is usually a copious amount once the poop does land. Of course, he waited for his weekly poop until we were on the road in East Texas. Add to this the fact that we were not expecting another weekly poop, because he had just had one on Monday.

So, I took a closer look at the substance protruding from the diaper. It was getting dark out, but the light from the IPhone revealed that there was poo oozing from the diaper. Due to the fact that he had fallen asleep with his leg in the air, it had not soiled his outfit or the carrier. Also, I would not have seen it otherwise and I couldn’t smell it for some reason.

Horrified, I stage-whispered to my husband, “Hey, Chris, there’s poop coming out of his diaper!” Due to the semi-calm whispering tone of my voice, my husband at first was unsure about the urgency of the situation. We were soon in the parking lot of the post office, grossing out unsuspecting folks dropping off their holiday mail.

The only reason I can think of that my son would fall asleep in such an unprecedented position, thereby allowing us to save his outfit, his carrier, and our sanity on that long, cold drive is The Miracle of Thanksgiving. So, all ye citizens of Jacksonville, TX, take heart. When you smell that weird odor still lingering around the post office, you are actually getting a whiff of true holiday magic.

OCDisastrous

Since my teens, I have had a touch of OCD. Well, maybe more than a touch, but fortunately, not the level of Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. I am able to control it when I want to (while going crazy inside 😉 ), but only to a certain extent.

It started in high school and escalated during my super-neurotic, overachiever state in college. I had to check all of the door locks every night in a certain order. Luckily, we had a small apartment with only two doors, which were in the same room. I hadn’t yet progressed to checking windows and the stove and oven yet. However, I spent an inordinate amount of time checking those two doors. No matter how long I stared I could not convince myself that the damn doors were as locked as they were going to get. Finally, I would convince myself that I could believe my eyes (I’m not really sure how long that took, but it was about the same amount of time every night.) and go to bed.

This continued even after I moved into an apartment of my own with chains and security bars on the door. (Hey, I lived in a college town. Those are candy stores for predators. I’d already caught a Peeping Tom at my bathroom window.) By then, I had started checking the windows. (Yes, Dad, this is what happens when you tell your children too many stories about how every stranger they see is a potential kidnapper. How even the seemingly harmless older couple across the street could be kidnappers and you should never, ever even make eye contact with anyone you don’t know, because you might disappear forever and meet some horrible fate.)

Now that I am living in a house with my husband and child, my routine runs a bit more smoothly. I do check everything, but I only do it once (most of the time). However, I have added a few weird things. For instance, I always check my husband’s deodorant bottle and container of hair product every morning to make sure he has put the lids back on properly. (I don’t want the cats getting in and eating any of that stuff.) However, I am also a multi-tasking mommy these days. I attempted to check the deodorant a couple of mornings ago while also brushing my teeth and moving my compact. (All after about a month of not really sleeping.) Of course, on that one morning, the lid wasn’t on all the way. The deodorant fell, knocking the compact on to the floor, causing me to take both the Lord’s and his Son’s names very much in vain. Blasphemously in vain. Noting that my prayers might get through faster if I would stop insulting two out of the Big Three, I apologized and prayed that my son hadn’t woken up. He hadn’t. Thank God. (And I say that respectfully.)

You’d think I would have learned my lesson from that incident. Oh, no. Yesterday (Again while Max was napping. I get in to so much mischief when he naps.), I just had to make sure the top was securely on the Tupperware container containing the previous night’s brisket, which was now my lunch. I tested it once. Not good enough. Twice. Still not good enough. A third time. The top flies off and the bowl skitters toward the microwave. I meekly replace the lid and put it in the fridge. No more checking. No more blaspheming. My son stayed asleep. I guess I am learning to let go of my fears and neuroses after all. A few more accidents should cure me completely.

It is really weird …

to go to the movies and find yourself sympathizing with the parents in the film.

We’ve been bit

by the flu bug. My son and I both have the flu. His is probably H1N1. However, that one is apparently not as dangerous as the regular flu, despite the hype. We were at Dell Children’s Hospital from midnight to 6 a.m. trying to find out what was wrong. Despite the horrible wait, the doctors and nurses were wonderful once we finally got some help. Their cheerful attitudes at 4 a.m., despite an ER packed with cranky patients, are an inspiration.

I hope some of that cheer rubs off on me, because I am feeling pretty pessimistic about the coming week right now. I am really not looking forward to being alone and sick with a sick baby. I know I will do what I have to do, but it will be hard. I already got a taste of it last week. Even though my husband works at home, he still has to actually work most of the time and lately that has included evenings and weekends. Please send good thoughts and prayers our way.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: