I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Enjoying the season

Everywhere I look, flowers in bloom
It's the middle of April already, and everywhere the flowers are bursting forth with fragrance and beauty. It's enough to make anybody smile, and it doesn't take much for me to enjoy the season. Even with all the rain we've had lately, it only makes me feel happy to be in the Pacific Northwest. A couple more weeks and I'll be able to finish planting my vegetable garden. What's out there right now is able to withstand the cold rain, anyway I hope so.

We've had almost two inches of rain in the past three days, which is considerable for a place that often gets precipitation at this time of year, but only a drizzle or mist, not a downpour. However, when I set out to walk yesterday morning, it was raining. Not a sprinkle or two, but real rain. I wore my rain pants, my newest rain jacket, a rain hat, and my waterproof shoes, so I was pretty dry, considering, but it's still not my favorite weather. I went to the movies with my friend Judy yesterday, and when I walked out of the theater, the clouds were gone and brilliant sunshine greeted me.

Lately I've been wondering how much of my disposition is innate, and how much of it is a choice I make. I am usually happy when I wake up in the morning, with only a few aches and pains that dissipate as I move around, and I look forward to the day. It's Sunday and this post is the only obligation on my schedule for the day. Of course, I'll get up and do my morning exercises, dress and make my way to the coffee shop, and I look forward to that, but that's it. The whole rest of the day stretches out in front of me without a plan. That's not usual for me, but I'll enjoy being able to make it up as I go along.

My sister and I were discussing our family the other day, and it came as a bit of a shock to realize that she and I are the only ones left who remember our grandparents. My maternal grandmother lived with us for awhile, as well as our paternal grandmother long ago. We were both quite young; Norma Jean was a preteen and I was lost in the drama of being a teenager when Mommy (that's what we called our dad's mom) lived with us. She had suffered a stroke and was unable to live alone and somehow she stayed with us until she was either moved to an institution or died, I don't remember which. She is the only relative that I ever remember having gone into a nursing home, if indeed she did.

I was involved with my own life and didn't spend any time that I remember talking with Mommy when she lived with us, but Norma Jean did. My sister was much more empathetic, while I fear I wasn't interested in spending time with old people. There's a bit of regret involved in my memories of those years, because I see how self-centered I was, unwilling to consider that she might have been an interesting person. Mommy told Norma Jean that she wasn't afraid to die, and that she had lived a good long life and was content with that. To a young girl with her whole life ahead of her, that was unfathomable.
Daddy, Mommy, Norma Jean, PJ, and me
As I sit here thinking about the past, I realize I have only a few pictures of Mommy. Our mother must have been behind the camera in this picture from long ago. This was before Mommy had moved in with us, but she visited often during these years. I don't know why she insisted that we call her by that name, but it's the only one I have ever associated with her. Her actual first name is the same one I share with her: Dorothy. She is the reason I was saddled with such an old-fashioned name, but I have always been called by my middle name, Jan. It wasn't until I grew much older that I decided to incorporate the first initial into my name, and now as I settle into old age, I'm simply becoming "Jan" again, and I don't mind. I still get an internal smile when someone calls me "Dee-Jan" instead of the much less distinctive "Jan," but these conceits are falling away as the years pass.

Now that I am old myself, I understand somewhat the idea of having lived a good long life and being unafraid of dying. However, it's not something I look forward to. I am so enjoying being in relatively good health and being able to plow through the days and months with a look forward towards the future. At some point that will change, but for the moment it's springtime in the Pacific Northwest. I've got friends and family, and a partner who is much more of a sweetheart than I deserve. Although I'm no longer that self-centered teenager, she still lives inside me. Fortunately for me, life has given me enough fodder to grow into an interesting person myself.

A person with a blog, too. Something that I have enjoyed for more than a decade now, and it certainly helps me discipline my errant and active mind into a single direction once a week. Writing all this down does help me to consider who I am today and who I once was.
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. – Confucius
And with that, I conclude this foray into my Sunday deliberations. It is now time for me to take a look around and start moving into the day's activities. Tea is gone, partner still sleeps next to me, and the sun is actually going to shine for at least a portion of my day. Rain is still in the forecast, but it's much less and I might actually be able to get into my garden today.

Until we meet again next week, I wish you, my dear reader, the best of weeks ahead, with lots of love and blue skies in your forecast. Be well until then.


mary said...

My parents and my mother's mother always lived together. We kids called our grandmother "Mom" because that's what my mother called her, and so to us kids, that was her name. We called our mother "Mommy". That is until we started kindergarten, the other students told us you can't have 2 moms! So that's when we started calling Mom "Grandma", and our mother "Mom". Peer pressure!

Rian said...

DJan... and I will continue to call you that since that is the name I associate with you, I too have very little memories of my grandparents. My dad's mum and dad both died before I was born and my mom's mom died before I was a year old. I do remember my mom's dad (a little). He was French and a very kind sweet man who called me "ma cheri" - which might be why I was called Cherie when young. He died when I was young (maybe 10?). I too wish I could have known them all.
I know you enjoy your garden and wish we had a community one around here. The 2 churches do... maybe I will check them out. As for your disposition and life philosophy, I do believe part of it is innate and part choice.
Your blog is a choice - and one I'm glad you made. I love sharing your thoughts (and your life - virtually)... and am very glad that a few of my little clay critters have found a home with you.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a wonderful keepsake photo! I recall that you called her Mommy (your Grandma). I found that interesting.
Enjoy your beautiful blooms for me! We have sun today...hope the white "stuff" melts a bit:)

gigi-hawaii said...

I lived with my maternal grandmother for 3-1/2 years when I was attending college. I never met my paternal grandmother, because she died before Dad met Mom.

Marty said...

Regrets here, too, at my self-centeredness in my youth. I lived with my grandparents (and mother and sister) for three years after my parents' divorce. About the only memory of Granny was here gift for making wonderful doll clothes, but also her general grumpiness. She was probably completely deaf (in spite of hearing aids) then and looking back, I think she was probably a very smart woman without enough in her life. She had a college degree - unusual for a woman those days. She'd had an interesting childhood (her father let the Indians camp by his river and had met Jesse James when he rode through) but I can't recall much of the family stories about it.
And like, you, there's pretty no one left to ask.

Linda Reeder said...

Old fashioned names are back, you know. Maybe you could actually be Dorothy! :-)
The rain and cold are extending the blooming, but the weather is cramping our style around here. It's hard to get out into the garden when it feels like winter and the ground is so cold and wet. But we did need the rain. Trade offs. Life is full of them.
We're going to do a bit of running away from home today, because we feel the need to. Looks like we'll stay dry for a while anyway.
I'll be seeing you on your other blog. Have a good week.

Glenda Beall said...

I always wished I had known my grandparents but they all died before I was born. My older sister remembered Mama, Mother's mom. She sounded like a sweet and kind person. I'm sure she was since my own mother was such a sweetheart. I wonder if anyone had written your grandparents' life stories, would you be interested in reading about them?
I teach older people to write about their lives for their grandchildren and future generations. I think I would have known much about my grandparents if I had ever known them. Our trees and flowers are blooming like mad at this time. But we have been watching the bad weather all day today. A small limb just fell on my deck and knocked over one of my new plantings. Hope you have a lazy day to do whatever you want.

Elephant's Child said...

I never knew any relatives and I envy those who did. Envy them, while acknowledging that my own self-centred self would probably not have made the best of that opportunity.
Enjoy your week dearest DJan.

William Kendall said...

My maternal grandparents lived for some years in a basement apartment in our home. I miss them.

Marie Smith said...

My grandparents lived close enough for us to visit them regularly and vice versa. I loved them and time with them was precious. I was lucky to have such wonderful grandparents. They can add so much to a child’s life.

Red said...

Relationships and memories of grandparents would be an interesting study. You and your sister have very different memories of your grandma. I remember often chattering to my Grandpa. Later in life my uncle told me that grandpa spoke very little English!

Mary said...

I never knew my grandmothers and my maternal grand father, I only met once, as he lived many states away. And my paternal grandfather died when I was four. I miss knowing them all and now I have an interest in genealogy, but no one to ask questions of. I could have asked my parents, but when I was young, I was too self absorbed and now they are gone. My loss for sure.

Arkansas Patti said...

Loved the picture. Grand parents are so forgiving or at least mine were. My mother's mom lived with since I was born but dies when I was in the second grade. She had a form of dementia so I only knew her as someone quiet who preferred the quiet of her room and her soaps.
My Dad's mom lived to be ninety three so I had a long time with her and she was my rock and always on my side. I was her "Precious." I do miss her.

Rita said...

My maternal grandfather died in his late 70s when I was five, but my maternal grandmother was only in her 50s at the time (was 17 years younger then he was) and she moved in with her youngest child's family, my aunt and uncle, and helped raise those three kids while they both worked. Grandma Ring loved children so when those kids were grown she was not very happy. But she didn't drive, refused to volunteer anywhere or to join any senior activities with "those old people"--LOL! She'd watch TV and snoop out the window to keep track of the neighborhood. My son, Dagan, was her first greatgrand. Told he wouldn't live, she doted on him every chance she got. She died in her late 80s.

My paternal grandfather who came over from Sweden died in his late 80s, too. I remember when he was in his 70s he followed Jack LaLane on TV and could still do handstands. Grandma Johnson lived alone in their house and still shoveled the walk and mowed the grass until she was in her 90s. Went into a nursing home--lost short term memory and then all memory. Lived to be 104.

All Swedes. Only Grandma Ring cuddled with very young kids and was not a disciplinarian (soft touch). On the whole they (and my parents) were no nonsense, distant, seen-but-not-heard types. There was no hugging, kissing, touching in the family...between parents and kids or even husbands and wives. I think I saw my dad give my mom a peck kiss twice in my life...and they didn't know I was there. They were aghast and condemning of my aunt and uncle cuddling on the couch when they were a young married couple! She'd even sit on his lap, arms around each other and they'd kiss!

When I was in my 30s I decided to change things in the family and started to hug my mom and dad goodbye. They were confused and it was awkward but they liked it, I kept it up, and they grew to expect it (and I think look forward to it). Talked my brother and sister into trying it, too. Now we all hug goodbye (and sometimes hello when we haven't seen each other in a long time). I've always hugged McFamily. I'm glad to be a hugger now.

Sorry--that just all kind of spilled happily out. Have a wonderful week, my friend. :)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I sure enjoyed the history of how Dorothy Jan turned into DJan. I enjoy the way you look back on things and relate that to life today. My experience as a high school teacher leads me to believe almost all teenagers are into themselves and rarely give any thought at all to how things will be if they make it to old age. I think my relationship to Mommy might have been just exactly like yours. When I look back on elders in my own family I just wish I had spent more time talking with them and trying to understand a little bit of their wisdom. Now, I just wanted to say thank you for your all your comments on my blog … I so appreciate them and look forward to them. Take care and have a happy rest of the week. John PS I love the Confucius quote!

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Carol Henstra said...

I enjoyed your story from the pass to now D.Jan.
My sister who died at a young age of 19. Her name was Dorthy. I loved that name and still do.
My daughter is called Elizabeth after my Mom.

It is true. Young Mothers today do call there children . Like Jessie, Annie, Caroline. And Dorthy.

I never got to meet my Grandparents. They died. I seen pictures of them. What I expected to see of Grandpa. A mustache and a pipe. His wife. Long hair up on her head with a Victorian dress]. Grandma did send me Birthday cards. Being from England the cards are so pretty and different. Blessings this day to you.

Friko said...

If this post is about anything it is about growing, developing and coming to terms with things as they are as a human being. Change is what it’s all about and that is good so.
I really enjoy your Sunday morning musings, truly the reflections which are called ‘the noblest’.