Defining Moments #SOL16 Day 3

 

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I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend over a cup of tea.  She is one of those friends you don’t need to see often but you can pick up right where you left off together.   During our conversation she told me about a moment she had at the age of 30 when she realized her current life path was not taking her down the road she had always envisioned for herself. She woke up with that nagging feeling and can remember clearly sitting by the river thinking it through later that day. It was that moment, that flip-the-switch moment, that changed everything for her. She had a difficult transition out of her current situation and into the life she was meant to have.  But she had the will to see it through because of that moment of clarity.

It made me think about the day I went for an interview at the school I have called home for the past 13 years.  I was single and went on the interview at the insistence of a good friend. I was comfortable and happy in my current position but I was also intrigued to learn more about this school.  As I drove over the bridge to the interview a message came through to me loud and clear: “This will be where you make your home.”

I look back on that moment now as a defining moment.  I love my school.  I have several colleagues who are true blue friends and I have strong connections to the community through the amazing families I’ve built relationships with along the way.  Eventually I married and had a child. Last year my husband and I moved to the town so that our son would have an opportunity to grow up in a small seaside community where he will feel safe and happy. It was probably months into moving here that I remembered the message I heard on the bridge 13 years ago.  I was in awe when I thought about how that message, that “prediction,” was now a reality.

I think we all have those flip-the-switch moments where something bigger than us is guiding us down the path meant to fulfill all that is within us.  I am so grateful for that.

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A Visit to the Library #SOL16 Day 2

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My four-year old and I went to the public library after school yesterday for our weekly visit.  He takes pride in the “jobs” he has at the library.  He heads straight to the book drop slot to empty our bag.  He surveys the adults at the circulation desk and asks, “Awww, where is Miss Eleanor?”

I say, “She must have the day off from work.  Everyone needs a day to rest.”

Then he marches over to the elevator and presses the button to get us upstairs.  We walk a long corridor to the children’s room.  He now heads over to the “Disney section” to choose the stories we have not read before.  We have progressed from nursery rhymes to fairy tales to specifically Disney stories. He chooses Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and asks who the bad one in the story is.  I suppose this means he is starting to understand fairy tale story elements.  We flip through the pages to find the poison apple.  He is satisfied and drops the book into our bag.  He walks among the stacks and picks up books we’ve read before saying, “Mom, remember this one?”

I only brought one bag today and I know we have holds waiting at the circulation desk so I say, “Let’s only choose five books today. We can come back later for more.”

He says, “I’m not five.  I’m four.  How about if I choose four books?”

“How about six?” I say. I know we will never make it out the door with so few.

I break my own rule within two minutes of being in the children’s room.  I’m stuffing new titles into our bag and he is finding books to add as well.  We make our way back to the elevator.  I’m sure he’ll rush to push the button but instead he opts to take the stairs.  I’m thinking about all the books waiting for us at the circulation desk.  He has other plans.  He stops at the window to look out.  “Where is our car, Mom?”  It forces me to get out of my own head and look with him.

“Do you see it?  Beyond the trees?  There’s our white car.”

Satisfied, he continues down the stairs.  We walk towards the circulation desk when I bump into a student’s mom.  We start chatting and he says, “Mom, I’m going over there to do my work!”  He is referring to the computer station where patrons can look up books and write down call numbers.  He wiggles his way up on to the computer chair and helps himself to a golf pencil and scrap paper.  Then he pushes buttons on the computer keyboard.

He finds his way back to me and I finish my conversation.  We bring our books up to the circulation desk.  As I hand over my library card and the woman behind the desk leaves to get our holds he asks, “Why is there a cat up there?”  I look up and, sure enough, there is a stuffed cat on top of the bookcase.

A man behind the desk says, “It’s name is Dewey the library cat.”

The woman returns with our books and says, “We rescued that cat from the Lost and Found.”

My little guy says, “It’s a stuffed animal cat.”

The woman and I say, “Yes, it is.”

He asks to carry Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs himself.  He sits himself on the bench and starts to flip through the pages.

I ask the woman if I can purchase another bag for all our books.  She finishes checking out our books and says to him, “Miss Eleanor will be very sad to find out she wasn’t here to check out your books to you.”

We say goodbye and I take his hand as we walk down the steps toward our car.

 

Grandpa Is In the Stars #SOL16 Day 1

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My father passed away nine days ago at the age of 66.  Although he was in his second round of chemo, my parents had recently purchased an ocean side condo in Florida and he was thrilled with this new chapter of their lives.  He told my mom the day before he died that they had “bought paradise.”  Last Saturday they purchased fishing poles, a tackle box, and lures.  He was sorting through his tackle box in anticipation of their fishing “date” on Sunday.  When he wasn’t feeling strong enough to walk later Saturday evening they called the rescue and within an hour he was gone.

You’re never prepared when you get that phone call.   My father’s death seemed so sudden and unexpected even though he had been sick for four years.  As his loving adult daughter, I was in shock but could eventually sort through the feelings of loss and gratitude for the years I had with my dad.  It’s a whole different story  when you have to explain to your four-year-old son that his Grandpa has left this earth.  What is appropriate? How much should I say?  My little guy is so innocent, so trusting, so joyful. I don’t want to take any of that away from him.

My husband and I agreed that we would explain it in “The Lion King” terms since this is a recent favorite of our little guy. I explained that just like Kion’s grandfather Mufasa is in the stars, now our Grandpa is in the stars.  We talked about heaven and God and how Grandpa feels good now that he’s in heaven.   My son mentioned that he’d like Grandpa to come back down from the stars because he calls him “Big Man.”  I said that Grandpa loved him very much and he’ll always be Grandpa’s “Big Man.”  We can look at pictures and think of Grandpa.  My older nieces and nephews feel a responsibility to eventually pass down their stories and memories of Grandpa to my son so that he can “remember” him as well.

I also feel a tremendous responsibility to tell his story.  I want my son to have a sense of where he came from.  I used to write in a journal every day.  Writing helped me sort through my feelings and gain perspective.  Somehow, over the years I got away from it.  This Slice of Life challenge was the boost I needed to get back to writing.  I am grateful. Grandpa is in the stars.  While I am still on this earth I will tap into all the potential I have.