Family Love and Memories

img116Yesterday, I watched two DVDs of my grandfather’s 80th birthday party.  One DVD included his stories and some songs and the other included memories of him and toasts.

We celebrated his 80th in 1988.  Hard to believe it was that long ago now. It was amazing to see all of us circa 26 years ago.  So much has changed since then.

In this video, I saw my grandpa (inspiration for this blog), my grandma, Grandma’s maid-of-honor and family friend Evie, our family friend Wayne, who was like a second grandfather, and his amazing wife Rett.

They have all passed away and were fascinating people.  I was enriched for having known all of them.  Evie was a pilot and had great stories to tell, Wayne was a fireman, and Rett was Grams’ best friend.  The fact that all of them lived such long and amazing lives is wonderful!

This photo was taken a few years after this birthday celebration in the same room where the video was recorded.  I spent a lot of time in this room through the years and loved it.  The turquoise walls, Grandma and Grandpa’s chairs, their piano, artwork, and knickknacks make me smile.

I also noticed that some important people who are now in the family weren’t back then.  Many loved ones have joined our family through marriage and births.  It is amazing to think that my grandparents now have 18 great-grandchildren, if I haven’t left anyone out. The family love has continued to grow!!

As I watched this DVD, my eyes welled up with tears as Grandpa told stories of Willie, and several other characters that he made up.  It was such a gift to again hear his voice as I remember and the lines that each story would end with.  It took me back to my childhood and all of the fun times we had as a family.

As I have written about, each Willie story would end with his scratching his head and saying, “I still wonder where rainbows come from.” The entire family would always say it with Grandpa.  Chills to see and hear that again!

The family singing was magical.  My amazing Aunt Linda can play almost anything on the piano without music, and often transposes the key as needed.  She did this on the DVD.  All of us in the family sang along to a song wishing a special birthday to Grandpa, also to a song that Mom had written about the family for Grandpa’s and Grandma’s anniversary, and several favorite show tunes.  As I watched the singing, I sang along again.

It was wonderful to be back in the family cocoon.  Kirk and Ian watched it with me and asked about the people there.  Ian was amazed to see his grandparents and his mother looking 26 years younger.  “Wow, Mom, is that you?” he asked.  “Yes, Ian. It sure is,” I told him.

I was so happy to watch these old videos of how I remember my grandparents and their house looking.  To see it again and all of those people whom I love so much was an amazing treasure.  So many happy tears and happy memories.

It has been a few years since I have seen my cousins and aunts and uncles.  We are planning a family reunion for next summer and I cannot wait!  It  is great that the fourth generation of our family loves to be together as much as the rest of us.

I wonder what amazing memories will be made and recorded at this next gathering?  I am sure there will be many and I am so looking forward to it.

Dr. B’s Words of Wisdom

SRP.28_Patti.Dick.and.Artha.1986As my regular readers know, my blog is inspired by the stories of my wonderful grandfather, Dr. J.R.B.  He was an amazing storyteller and had quite an imagination.  He also wrote a column for his city’s paper for 20 years about his children, pets, his wife, family, and friends.

In 1985, he and my grandmother gave all of us in the family an amazing book of his columns and some family photos.  It is one of my favorite and most special treasures.  I love that my writing is often similar to his.  Today, I was looking at this book and came across a great column.  When I read it, I thought of Ian who has just had a birthday and my nephew Isaac who will turn 17 years old tomorrow.

This photo was taken of me with my amazing grandparents in 1986 – one year after receiving this precious gift.  I have enjoyed reading it on occasion ever since and draw inspiration from his columns and his stories that he used to tell.  I still miss both of them very much and wish they could have met my husband and son.

Here are my grandpa’s words on Parent’s Hardest Job, which was published in November 1950:

____”I’ve been watching our small son wrestle with Brownie, our family pooch.  It’s man-style wrestling now.  All at once I knew our boy is a baby no longer. The little baby has gone forever.

“Know how I feel? Like boo-hooing. I think a parent’s hardest job is watching the little ones grow up. Do you feel that way too? They grow up so doggone fast.

“Probably our regret is selfish.  One reason we love our children so much when they are little is that they make us feel very important. Their helplessness feeds our big-shot appetites. Compared with them we’re competent, successful, brilliant.

“We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t enjoy these superior feelings.

“Then they grow up. They become more and more independent. They compete with us. We become small potatoes. And we don’t like it.

“What should I do with my son, and you with yours? I should be more generous. I should get my thrill out of his new accomplishments. I should encourage his growth in all ways.

“So, little boy, go ahead and wrestle man-style. Nice to see your progress.

“The trouble is that your father is a soft-hearted old lump-in-the throat guy who just can’t seem to practice what he preaches. Oh me!”____

Aren’t these words amazing? I teared up when I read them today.  I thought about Ian and Isaac and the rest of my nieces and nephews and how quickly they are all growing up.  Time moves so quickly and there is so much change in our children.

I am honored to be able to have a front-row seat at my son’s growing up years and so many other amazing young people.  I feel blessed and humbled about that.  I wish them all the best!

I wonder if I could put this feeling into words as well as Grandpa did?  I am just glad to have his words to read and learn from.

Happy Grandparents Day

fran-dick-arthaDid you know tomorrow is Grandparents Day?  I didn’t until recently looking at the calendar. I was blessed with knowing three of my grandparents for most of my life.  Here are the three grandparents I knew. From left, they are Grams (Fran), Grandpa (Dick), and Grandma (Artha).  This was circa 1970s at the house where I grew up.

All three of them had long and amazing lives.  Grams lived to be 93 years old, Grandpa lived to be 86 years old, and Grandma lived to be 92 years old.  I only hope that I have such a long and wonderful life as they had. I never had the privilege of knowing my other grandfather.  He was quite a man from all I have heard. He would have loved his family.

My siblings and cousins were blessed to have these amazing people in our lives. All three of them taught me so much.  They taught me about the importance of family, the gift of education and its importance, the ability to write and tell stories, the necessity of hard work, the love of teaching children, the enjoyment of music and singing, and the ability to laugh and make the most of my life.

I still miss each of them so much.  I loved them dearly and know that they all loved me as well.  The fact that I had one grandparent until well into my 40s is such an amazing blessing.

Now, my parents are wonderful grandparents to Ian and his cousins.  They are called Grandma and Grandpa.  Up until recently, Ian called Dad Auguguk.  This was a name he made up since he couldn’t say Grandpa.  My husband’s parents are Gran and Grandpa Cates.  They are also great with Ian and his cousins on that side of the family.

I am thankful to all of them for how much they love Ian and enjoy spending time with him.  It is really great that the wonderful grandparent tradition has continued with them.

To my grandparents, I am thankful for:

  • Learning the ability to speak for myself
  • Encouraging me in my dreams
  • Making a point to have the family get together
  • Having a beach house where our family can continue to gather
  • Listening to me when I spoke to them
  • The gift of my cousins, and aunts and uncles
  • Telling me about Willie, Mrs. Oheyou, and the importance of wondering

To my parents and in-laws, I am thankful for:

  • Times you play with Ian
  • Taking Ian on bike rides at the beach
  • Buying him a bike with training wheels
  • Reading with him and now listening to him read
  • Spending time with him and his cousins
  • Watching him so Kirk and I can have date nights
  • Loving our son as much as you do

Here are a few quotes about grandparents:

  • “Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.” ~ Author Unknown
  • “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” ~ Alex Haley
  • “When a child is born, so are grandmothers.” ~Judith Levy
  • “Grandchildren: the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS.” ~Gene Perret
  • “Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.” ~ Doug Larson
  • “A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart.~Author Unknown

In honor of grandparents day, I want to end with what my Grandpa ended all Willie stories with, “I Still Wonder Where Rainbows Come From.”

93 Years Young

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Monday.  Today is expected to be a rainy one.  Oh well, at least it’s not feet of snow.

We had a fabulous weekend.  How about you?  We had some time to relax, watch some fun shows, and also party with a very deserving birthday girl (well woman).

Saturday was my grandmother’s 93rd birthday.  We had the pleasure of celebrating with her.  Some of the family and friends gathered together. We had a great lunch, cake, and time to visit.

Grams opened her gifts and truly appreciated what she received.  Ian had drawn her a special picture and she listened intently as he explained what it was.  And, he wrote, by himself, her name on a card.  It looked great!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe entire family and more friendswill be together in a few weeks for a big party celebration.  Should be fun and a very rare treat.  I just hope and pray that everyone stays healthy and can make it!  Our  family has a silly tradition of reversing our candles on the cake — so her’s was 39.  Cool, isn’t it?

I feel very blessed to still know and love my Grams.  She is such fun. As I wrote about her last year, she likes a good bottle of wine, real cheese and cream, a sunset at a favorite beach, sailing, gardening, reading, and being with her loved ones.  She also likes word finds, good desserts, and pictures of family. We are blessed and honored to be a part of her family!

A book of quotes that I have has a nice one, “Birthdays are a time to reflect on the memories of yesterday, the joys of today and the dreams of tomorrow.”  Congratulations Grams on another great year! Another one states the way that Grams has lived, “Happiness is living well, laughing often, loving greatly.”

And as Pablo Picasso said, “It takes a long time to grow young.”  Here’s to you Grams!  Love you and look forward to another fun celebration of you and your amazing life! You are 93 years young!!!

Happy Birthday Grams!!

DSC06130Tonight my family and I are celebrating my grandmother’s 92nd birthday!  Is that not the coolest?

Her birthday was actually earlier this week but this is when we are celebrating.

This is a picture of me with Grams 6 years ago (when she was 86 — she looks great, don’t you think?).  We were at the Tennessee Smokies baseball game with my parents and my aunt.  It was a fun evening!!  We went again this summer with all of them and Ian went as well.  It was fun to add another generation to our fun.  Unfortunately my husband wasn’t able to come with us.

Grams (aka Fran) is quite a gal! She loves having the family together to celebrate events.  We make big deals about everyone’s birthday and hers is truly a party!

Since her 90th birthday, for her birthday, we have been getting everyone together in the church fellowship hall, have enjoyed barbecue, baked beans, cole slaw (her favorite), cake and some wine along with it.

I enjoy this family tradition and especially enjoy celebrating her life. We will laugh and tell tales, enjoy being together and I will thank my lucky stars (actually my Lord) for being a part of this family.

Grams likes a good bottle of wine, real cheese, a sunset over the ocean, sailing, gardening, reading, and being with her loved ones.  She was born in 1921 — one year into the roaring 20s.  Life was quite different when she came into the world.

I remember a conversation once with her about the jobs available to a woman when she started working.  There were only four — teacher, nurse, secretary, and librarian.  She chose secretary and worked for many years.

She worked in the era when people could smoke at their desks, took shorthand, dialed a rotary phone, and if you made a mistake in typing your letter, you had to reset the paper and mimeograph paper for the copies.  No computers and backspaces available then.  I don’t know if I could have done this work like she did.

Since none of these were my chosen profession, I am glad that times have changed since then.  I do like that women have so many more career options.  I appreciate women like my grandmother who blazed the trail for me.

She had some tough times in her life, but always managed to pick herself up and carry on.  Grams is an inspiration to me.  She doesn’t let people or circumstances get her down but instead plows ahead.

She became a widow way to young when my grandfather passed away suddenly.  I never knew him but have heard so much about him my entire life that I feel that I know him.  Although he is in Heaven, he is still part of the family and our special angel!

For as long as I can remember, Grams hasn’t been shy about sharing her opinion — whether you wanted to hear it or not.  Sometimes not, but she had kernels of wisdom.  She was, however, usually blunt.

Last summer I had some time to talk to her one-on-one at the beach.  She came with us to the family beach house for a short time and it was great! Hearing her opinion on a variety of subjects was really nice.

One evening, I was on the beach with her, my father (her son), and my son.  She wanted to get her feet wet so we all went down to enjoy that moment with her.  And, let me tell you something, it was amazingly special!!!  Having the four generations there with our feet in the sand and surf is unforgettable!  We tried taking pictures but they didn’t turn out very well.

I hope to have other special moments with her.  I cherish each one that I now have and am so thankful that Ian is getting to know her.  For her birthday, he has chosen some of his special items to give to her.

We love you Grams very much!  We wish you a very Happy Birthday!  May you enjoy your 9th decade as much as the rest!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!  Hope you have a great day today!!

I wanted to post A Thanksgiving Prayer that my grandfather, Dr. James Richmond Barbour, wrote in November 1951.   He was an educator, writer, psychologist, and fantastic grandpa.  Here is a photo of me with him when I was a toddler.

A Thanksgiving Prayer was published in Grandpa’s “A Parent’s Corner” column in the San Diego Evening Tribune newspaper.  I hope that it will bless you as much as it does me!

“Our Father-God we thank thee –

  • For the ringing laughter of our children playing, for their giggles, and the moist throaty chuckles of our babies.
  • For the tender weight of a sleeping child in our arms, and the trust of a tired son who rests his head upon our shoulder, and sleeps
  • For the joy we feel in baby’s first tooth, first word, first step, and the thrill of the grown-up child who marries
  • For the exultant communion with our teen-ones when we dive together into the clean cold surf at dawn, and stand with them silently at sunset drinking glory from the cloud-studded sky
  • For small boys on tricycles, or on hands and knees in the sandbox pushing toy trucks and making man-noises
  • For tomboy girls streaking across the lawn, swinging on rings, or whirling like pinwheels on turning bars
  • For the wonder of the sensitive face of a half-grown child as she listens to a great organ for the first time, or watches a symphony orchestra
  • For the fun of family picnics, and vacation trips, and going fishing together
  • For the thrill we feel when a daughter stands before us in her first formal gown, and we realize that she is beautiful
  • For the joy of a child’s recovery from illness, and the relief we feel when we see an accident almost happen, but not quite
  • For the pressure of a timid child’s hands in ours as we walk together in the dark
  • For parenthood we thank thee.
  • And, our Father-God, to thee we pray for peace.  If it be thy will, grant that we may continue our lives together in the precious years to come.  Amen.”

Here is a photo of me with my Grandpa and Grandma in 1986.  This is how I remember them.

They had an amazing love for one another and for their family.  You can hear this love in this prayer about his children and their growing up years.  They had three girls and one boy.  My mother was the third daughter.  I am blessed and honored to be a part of this amazing family.  As I was typing it, I was tearing up thinking about both Grandpa and Grandma and this beautiful prayer that he wrote more than 50 years ago.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!  I hope that you have many blessings to be thankful for and special people to share them with!!  God Bless!

Rainbows and Storytelling

…I still wonder where rainbows come from.

Thus ended each story about Willie the Elf that my grandfather used to tell.

That phrase inspired the name of this blog and some of my writing. You see my grandpa was an amazing storyteller and Willie was my favorite character.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a video of several of his stories, with the one about Willie being the best (in my opinion).  The time was 1988 when our family was celebrating his 80th birthday for a weekend.  Here is a photo of me with him and his wife, my grandma, a few years before that.  This is how I remember them looking.

In looking through some videos, my mother happened upon this amazing treasure.  It was like our own little time machine.  We were taken back to another time and another place and it was amazing!!

The story we watched was my absolute favorite!  In the story, Willie travels to Knoxville, Tennessee, and finds the Sunsphere which was built for the World’s Fair in 1982.  The building looks like it has a big, gold ball on the top.  In the story, Willie is thrilled since he thinks he has found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  And as a result, he will finally get his answer of where rainbows come from.

He ends up getting stuck and his faithful friends come in and help him down, with a mug of hot chocolate to calm his nerves.  He then realizes that it isn’t the pot of gold but isn’t too upset about that fact.  He then goes back to his cabin in the woods and again says, “I still wonder where rainbows come from.”

These characters were brought back to life to me as I listened to the story with my parents, husband, son, and father-in-law.  I hope to watch this sometime with my sister and brother but am afraid we’ll all be crying too much.  I was laughing and crying tears of joy and remembrance.

I cannot describe the excitement of once again seeing my grandfather tell one of his stories.  The voice was the same as I remember and he looked exactly as I remembered. And, I remembered every word of the story, even though I haven’t heard it in years.  A few items were a bit different, but it was mostly the same.

The rest of us, however, have changed quite a bit. We all looked like the 1980s –with the clothes and the hair.  I saw my parents then at the age I am now. (Isn’t that amazing and profound in itself?)  And, I heard laughs of family members that I have heard my entire life.  Seeing my siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends was such a treat!  Our own buried treasure, that’s for sure!

Since this video was made, we have lost many dear people — such as my grandfather who passed away 8 years after this video was recorded — but we have also added so many special loved ones to the family through marriage and children.  The circle of life has continued as it always does.

My family liked and still likes to celebrate birthdays and be sure to have time together.  Our times were filled with fun and laughter, stories, and hours of singing as my amazing aunt would play each song on the piano from memory.  We were all very different people, yet loved coming together.

I am honored to be a part of this amazing family.  We have different faiths, jobs, political views, and walks of life, yet we did and still do love each other and are thrilled to see one another when we can get together.  We have learned, for the most part, to agree to disagree.  And, to me my life has been so much richer for these experiences.  You can learn so much if you are willing to listen to someone who has a different view of life.

Now, my siblings and many of my cousins have children so a new generation is growing up with the family values, stories and songs.  I hope that this videotape can help make these stories relevant to them as well.

Ian has been told about Willie and loves the stories.  I try to tell them but it isn’t quite the same, well, not to me anyway, but he loves them as I used to and still do.

He has asked me what Willie looks like.  “I want to see a picture of Willie, Mommy,”  he told me.  What he doesn’t realize or completely understand is that Willie was a creation in my grandpa’s vivid imagination and he looks different to all of my family and everyone who hears the stories.  How do I explain that to him?

One time when I was a child, I drew a picture of what Willie looked like to me, so I can show him that.  But, he may have another idea in mind.

I changed the banner at the top of my blog in honor of Willie’s quest to find answers about something he was passionate about.  In his own way, Grandpa was teaching us about following our bliss and our passion.  I didn’t realize that when I was a child and young adult since I was too busy enjoying the fun of the story.  But, I can never thank him and my grandma enough for that gift as well as the gifts of imagination, love of writing, education, family, and love.

Because of these stories, I have always loved rainbows and still do.  Last summer, a friend who lives across the street from my family’s beach house, took a picture of a rainbow with the beach house at the end of the rainbow.  That too made me cry since that house is one my grandparents bought and our family has enjoyed.

Grandpa and Grandma, you are loved and missed!  And, thanks to this video, Grandpa, you and your stories will live on for Ian and his generation.  What an amazing blessing!  Thanks Mom for finding this treasure for us!!

Time to Lose, Etc.

Time to Lose Week 8

Yet another week has come and gone with the weight loss adventure.

The exercising didn’t go exactly as I had planned, but there is good news. I lost 2 pounds because of better food choices.  YEAH!  It truly is a combination of the two but quite a bit from healthy foods.

In each meal, I am eating either fruits or veggies and am having protein as well. That seems to be making a good difference.  I still, however, have a major appetite and am not sure when that will change.  Hopefully soon, so I am trying to fill up on healthier options – plums, pears, oranges, green salad, corn on the cob, etc.

This morning I tried on a dress that I haven’t worn in a while.  It seems to fit better than it has in recent months.  My shape seems to be improving and that is really nice.

I have to remember that weight loss isn’t all about the scale — but also about how clothes fit and how you feel.  These items are improving and I am very thankful.

There are still plenty of items to work on but each week it’s getting easier!  I still like the occasional really good hamburger with for example, Cali Cobb toppings (blue cheese, bacon, and avocado) and thin-cut fries.  This was a recent meal I enjoyed at a restaurant and it was delicious and the best hamburger I’ve had in ages.

And, I now like dark chocolate which is supposed to be better for you.  My favorite is Ghirardelli dark with mint.  I have learned that when I do want a splurge, it is going to be something I really like and will really enjoy the taste of.  I am not wasting my calories anymore on a so-so tasting item.

Here is to another week that more will be lost and more will be learned. Cheers!!

Etc.

**I have to say how glad I am that it is Friday.  It will be a busy weekend, but I still enjoy the different routine to a Saturday and a Sunday than the other 5 days of the week. Being able to sleep in a little bit on Saturday morning is a treat, as well as a special breakfast or event for the day. And going to church is the highlight for Sunday as well as lunch with the family and then a lazy afternoon.

*And, I have to say Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss.  He is one of the best children’s authors ever.  I have liked his books for many years. And, now I am so thankful that Ian is enjoying them too.  My grandmother recently gave him “The Foot Book.” Last night as he was going to bed, he quoted from this book.

I have to say that is the mark of a great book when a 4-year-old remembers the lines from it a week after it’s been read to him!!  I hope to write a children’s book one day and can only hope to aspire to a little of the genius of Dr. Seuss.

Hope you have a great week – no matter what you are doing!  I wonder if we can make the most of it and enjoy each and every day! Hope you will!

Happy 91st Grams!

Tonight we celebrate my grandmother’s 91st birthday. Happy Birthday to you Fran, aka Grams!

My grandmother is quite a lady and someone who I love and respect. She is fun to talk to, fascinating to listen to, and someone who teaches a lot to others.

Grams had a rough childhood and persevered. She has always been a very strong person and very independent. Those qualities have served her well and helped her get through some trying times.

She lost the love of her life, my grandfather, at a young age. That was hard on her and my dad and his sister but they all learned and grew from it. Their lives were never the same, but yet they all made the best out of pain. Showing strength, determination, and joy to make the most of each day is something that she has been doing for a lot of years.

It is amazing to think of what she has seen in her lifetime. So much has changed in her 9+ decades of life and yet she has remained true to herself, and I admire her for that.

When Grams started out working she said there were only 4 jobs available for women outside the home — teacher, nurse, secretary, and librarian. She worked for many years as a secretary. Now the world is open to whatever we women want to pursue.

Grams is a pragmatic and honest person and loves to express herself. What she comes up with can be surprising to some, but it also is a refreshing quality.

I admire Grams for her grit, resolve, and moving through life on her terms. She never was one to let problems get in her way.

She greatly loves her family — 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. She loves to garden, read, watch The Weather Channel, and eat real cheese, real butter, and drink black coffee and a nice glass of wine. She is a fine woman who I am happy to have as our matriarch!!

I love you Grams and wish you a very Happy Birthday! It is an honor to celebrate with you!

I wonder if I can have as long and as rich a life as she has. Hope so!!