I almost never do more than a short review of a book, such as if I buy one on Amazon etc., much less blog about one. However, once in a while you come across a book that just reaches out and grabs your heart. Such a book is Our Mothers’ War by Emily Yellin. Even though I seldom read non-fiction, my attention was riveted on this to the last page.
I enjoy history, especially that of real people, and it was a big surprise when I found such a rich portrayal of women in this book. It tells of women and how World War II changed their lives not only during the war but afterward. I knew these things–but I found I didn’t know them really, at all. I grew up under this generation of women, my mother and others, and I remember the occasional comment or reference to the war years. But after reading this book I now understand as well as remember. Why my mother was the way she was, and made the decisions she made, had always been an enigma. Now I see better why she was the person she was.
These women had tremendous courage and changed the world of women greatly. There is a thread through their accomplishments that extends to our present day and many of the problems they faced still linger. I closed the book at the last page with the fervent hope that the women of today never let the courage of our mothers be in vain. To that end I will see that my granddaughters read this book. I want them to understand that the freedoms they enjoy were paid for by their great-grandmothers.
I’m not sure where January went but I want it back. I always look forward to the beginning of a new year. It’s like you leave all that baggage behind you from last year and start with a clean slate. This year I planned to take care of anything that had to be done on the very day it came up. I would finish projects on time and quit putting things off and finish 2016 blessedly free of stress and backlogs and without need for apologies and excuses for those things I didn’t get finished, or started for that matter.
All went well for the first day or so. Then some unknown enemy force torpedoed January. I learned it is physically impossible to be in two, much less three, places at once and therefore you are going to go rapidly behind no matter what you do. Those days when you have nothing scheduled and plan to catch up? Let me know how they work for you because they didn’t do a thing for me.
Now I’m sitting here looking over the top of a tall pile of paper that needs dealing with after spending half the day taking care of only two pieces of it. I want the January of my dreams back and this pile to go away. But since that isn’t likely to happen maybe I should start a monthly list of apologies and excuses instead of waiting until the end of the year?
The Christmas season is upon us and my husband said those words we wives most love to hear. “I know you want this so go pick one out for your Christmas present.” Wow! Carte blanche! So I went to the phone store and bought a Druid. Okay, okay, I can hear all of you saying the same thing my son-in-law did. “That’s not the way it’s pronounced.” But I’m not mispronouncing it, I’m talking about a real honest to goodness druid. I looked it up and the definition tells me it’s a member of an ancient priesthood of magicians and wizards. Probably not exactly what it said but close enough for me.
A magician or wizard, the druid, undoubtedly touched his wand to something and made it what it wasn’t to start with, or focused on something so hard it went up in flames or turned into something else or made it do something weird. So here’s the deal. I bought a cell phone, smart phone, something or other, called a Droid. I touch it and strange mysterious forms appear before me. I touch it again and it shows me some screen that actually talks to me in tongues. You know, some language known only to the druid hiding inside the little thin box with the window. There are mysterious rituals you need to know and it tells you what to do. Thing is there are those of us who don’t speak druid and after we read what it says to do we have no clue what he said.
Thankfully, I have family who know how to communicate with this strange little being and they can intercede for me. Soon, they expect me to be able to call and text them. They think it’s all electronic technology and stuff but I know better. It’s an ancient little druid in disguise and I own one.
For good or for bad, the world changes around us and it often seems that communication between people has become obsolete. Most of us don’t begin to realize this until we are beyond the years of child rearing. During that time we’re too busy to realize anything short of the house falling down around us. Most of these changes remain good fodder for future posts. One, however, rose up and draped itself around my neck in a choke-hold today in an attempt to destroy my best holiday spirit. It all started when I decided to get my Christmas cards out on time.
To me, one of the best parts of the Christmas season was the yearly Christmas cards and letters that came with them. These yearly letters were often the only communication of the year with some individuals. I would make pretty decorations of them, stringing them down the wall, putting them on the tree, arranging them on the mantel, etc. Guests would stop and look at them and family would pick them up and enjoy the yearly news also. Now the internet has come upon us, as has the high cost of stamps, and from many people I get cards in my email. They are beautiful and you don’t have to write a letter to go in them. I watch them and in some cases get teary eyed. One of these days I may start using them myself.
So today when I started though the address book to get a count for how many cards I need to buy, I took note of the ones that send email cards, those who send no letter and the many who are friends and second or third generation family who no longer send anything. My dilemma now is, do I continue sending cards to those who no longer send to me until they are guilted into sending a late card back? Do I send a Christmas letter? Surely if someone no longer sends me one they won’t be interested in mine? But, maybe because I am a writer or maybe because I am just nostalgic for the times that have changed, I will trudge to the store and buy cheap cards that aren’t nearly as pretty as the email ones. I will write a dull Christmas letter because I don’t have anything exciting to tell about the past year and send it out as usual. I will send cards to those I know won’t return them or will do so only because I sent them one. As evidenced by the fact that I have used the word Christmas ten times in a three paragraph post, I will continue to maintain the Christmas spirit and play Christmas music and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” and I will even — yes — carry on the yearly Christmas card ritual.
That I write romance novels probably had something to do with the title of this blog catching your eye. What are you thinking? But now that it has your attention let’s talk about it. Position is important. My first skirmish with it was as a child. I was one of those unlucky girls that shot up early and was taller than everyone in my class. The fact that I was told they would catch up with me and I would not forever be condemned to a life of boys shorter than I was didn’t help at that time. So, like all girls in this situation–I slumped. My father, who had a thing about standing up straight, added to my misery. “Stand up straight! Head up! Shoulders back! Don’t hang your head.” As self-conscious as I felt at the time, it was do it or listen to my father’s lectures. By the time I hit high school the others caught up with me in height but by then I had developed good posture that had become a habit.
Just about the time I thought I’d put posture behind me position came into play and I found myself in a high school typing class. Yes, you young people out there with mouths gaping in disbelief, it was called a typing class, not keyboarding or something else techy sounding. We beat hard on the keys to make a nice clean print on the carbon copy and we slammed that carriage back. Almost everything was timed and you didn’t want to have the carriage not go all the way. Hitting that carriage must have been very therapeutic. We all seemed to be pretty emotionally healthy. Into this mix marched the typing teacher whose name I have long ago forgotten. I think of her as being like my father on steroids. She was tall, thin, dressed very businesslike and when we came to class we were expected to assume the correct position. “Sit up straight, back against the chair! Head up, feet flat on the floor! Arms at your side, not out like wings! Hands over the keyboard, wrists straight, not touching anything!” She felt strongly about it. To this day I sit down to type and I put my feet flat on the floor, back straight, etc. My father is gone now and I’m sure the teacher is also but I still have a feeling that if I slump one of them will reach out and tap me on the shoulder.
I watch my grandchildren slouch on the couch, laptop on their knees, head down. Their position looks uncomfortable. I’ve tried working that way. My fingers are aimed wrong and I keep making mistakes and having to start over. Mostly I feel guilty. So now when I want to work in my recliner or on the couch I take a pen and paper. When I’m ready I go to the laptop on my desk and I type it up–feet on the floor, back straight, head ba…
A friend’s post today set me thinking about the fun and happy memories we all have with our kids and grandkids that we want to preserve. My grandkids are graduating next spring and that will be the end of the soccer games and swim meets and basketball and track and the list goes on. It was fun. I also have fond memories of the hours I spent picking them up from school for dentists, orthodontists or doctor appointments, or to an early or late practice for one of the afore mentioned activities.
Transporting a teenager is a good time to bond. Contrary to a lot of people’s impression, kids do want to talk to you. You just have to get them started. You do that by asking questions. I read often that it’s poor manners to ask people (kids, neighbors, relatives, friends, sometimes even strangers) personal questions. However, experience is a great teacher and it has taught me that if you don’t ask — nobody tells you anything. And it often lets them know you care. In any case, to get back on track here, it was all a good time and there are so many good memories.
How do I preserve those? If I used pictures of every game and every movement the kids did that was exceptional and put them in albums the house would list. Luckily, the perfect answer popped up. I’m going to have the folding chair that has resided in the back of my car for several years and been my faithful companion for all those good times — bronzed! Where most people have that odd chair in the corner that no one likes or sits in except for overflow company I’ll have my bronze folding chair! When I miss my grandkids and those times with them I’ll go sit in it and close my eyes and remember. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
I would love to be twenty years old again. I would love to be thirty years old again. I would love to be — well, never mind. The point is I would love to be that age again — with a provision. I want to be that age and have the wisdom and experience I have now. There would be no end to what I could accomplish. And fun? I could have so much more fun than I did. All that worrying about the future, jobs, health, kids, money, the state of the world — you name it, I worried about it. I was a stay at home mother for several years. I worried about getting dishes done, laundry done, meals cooked, grocery shopping done, house cleaned. Whew! Makes me tired just to think about it. In time, I went back to work. Then I worried about getting there on time, (I live in a place with a lot of railroad crossings), and doing my job as well as expected of me, keeping up with the technology the job required and it goes on. Then the kids got an education and I quit.
I enjoyed the years my kids were young and I stayed at home. Being a stay-at-home wife and mother is a job, let no one tell you otherwise. But it is, like any job, satisfying, if you let it be. I liked working at a job as well, getting up and going in to work with other people every day, the comradery and friendships and the sharing of your lives over coffee break. Bringing home a paycheck wasn’t bad either. But the day came when I could retire or keep working and I chose to retire and turn my attentions elsewhere, like husband, children and best of all grandchildren. Somewhere along there an old hobby reentered my life – writing. With some trial and error and a lot of encouragement from family and my writing group I finally, after all those years, found out what I was meant to do. My only regret in life is that I didn’t start writing seriously years ago. I guess the moral of the story is that there is always something out in front of us that can be a wonderful enhancement to fulfilling our dreams. So now I know myself, I’m a writer. Now I think about things like beginnings, plots, twists, characters and so on. In other words I’m still a worrier.