Friday, January 29, 2010

When "We" Were Kids

In later years, when I had grown up, Gram would get that loving twinkle in her eyes, commenting on how much fun we had when "we" were kids. The funny thing was that she indeed felt as if she were one of us, somehow keeping alive her childish spirit. This was actually one of the most charming things about her because this type of spirit does not have the barriers and exclusions that adults somehow inherit when they cross over that line. She was never confined to that mature box labeled: must act, must have, must do. There were always endless possibilities, solving what seemed to be the largest obstacles in life. I don't know that I can ever remember her saying the words no, I can't, or I won't.

In my adult life I struggle from time to time with those phrases, becoming engulfed in the negativity of the outside world. If I listen long enough, I can hear her voice whispering in my ear and it reminds me that your own will can carry you as far and as high as you'll ever want to go.

Exerpt taken from: The Significance of Having Curly Hair; A Loving Memoir of the Life and Loss of My Grandmother by Kara L. Zajac

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One of my favorite photos of Gram

This is one of my favorite photos of Gram, taken in the car with her 90th birthday balloons on October 11Th, 2003. The family threw a surprise party in which many of our Quincy relatives attended. I always found it unfortunate that Gram didn't connect more closely with her own brothers and sisters, even though they lived no more than thirty minutes south of Tewksbury.

Although one of her major personality traits was to stay a little below the radar at all times, she really enjoyed being the center of attention when it was her time!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting

The baby is on its way. It could be in five minutes or five days and I can not believe the emotional rollercoaster that is happening to me as I judge every movement, every pressure, every possible inkiling that this might be it! But, alas, the last 72 hours it has NOT been it and I can't seem to think about anything else. I guess this is normal anxiety/anticipation. Is it time to start counting, no just more waiting. Is that a real one or just another faker.....this may just be my first real taste of what parenting is all about!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, April 30

I knew the message would come one day, in a call, because I wasn't around to receive it firsthand, I dreaded it, although I knew it was somewhat inevitable, and tried to slowly prepare myself over the last couple of years for what was going to have to become my truth at some time. Yes, she was aging; the stroke the previous year had definitely left its mark. Her proprioception was not the same, balance had become a major issue, but still she seemed like she'd be around forever. We could just catch her when she fell. The short-term memory loss was more cute than a sign of life slipping away. All of our recent history got shifted to a lobe that could no longer be accessed. It's not that it wasn't there; it was just no longer accessible, which was fine, because we got to know the part of Gram that was her without us, before us, when she was all her; not a wife, not a mother, not a grandmother, just Senia. Hearing stories of her childhood in Quincy, swimming in the rock quarry, jumping over fire hydrants with her brother, became a monumental record, except that at times the record would play three times in five minutes. That was the cute part, and although she was aging both physically and mentally, at 94 she still looked young and seemed like she would be around forever.

taken from page 2: The Significance of Having Curly Hair; A Loving Memoir of the Life and Loss of My Grandmother

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is it time yet?

Many of you may or may not know that I am desperately trying to get this manuscript completed before the arrival of the baby, which now, at 37 weeks, could be anytime. All of you that are already parents have given me fair warning that free time after children becomes a thing of the past! Ok, so I'll just type faster!

Whenever I get to a deep emotional section of the book, usually when I am crying, the baby kicks and moves, letting me feel its presence (I say its because the gender is going to be a surprise, but if it's a girl, it will be named Senia after Gram). I wonder if there is part of her growing inside of me, and of course, I hope there is. Her death was the reason we decided to get pregnant in the first place.

Lately I've put plenty of thought into exactly when a spirit enters the body. Is it at conception? Or at birth? And does birth gender really matter if your spirit has been here before? I'd love any feedback if anyone has an opinion on this. Whatever it is, it's pretty amazing to feel that connection already; the mixture of new life, old life, and whatever life is left in the middle!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dad's birthday

This photo shows happy times in our old house on California Road. Gram is onlooking from the left, as I help Dad blow out his birthday candles, circa 1976.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Many times I wondered if my father represented the type of man she had wished her husband had been, a true family man, a good, supportive husband, a loving father, funny, dependable, and most importantly, the one trait with outweighed precedence over all others, more significant than fine china, all of the money in the world, or striking it rich with black gold, he had curly hair.

Not a day passed that Gram didn't gripe or complain about the condition of her own hair; how it was too thin, too flat, too fine, and too straight. In her day having curly hair was not only the current trend, but absolutely every woman seemed to wear it that way, be it forced with pin curls, hot rollers, or a permanent wave, if you weren't one of the blessed few having it occur naturally. And how she admired those blessed with the waves.

Gram exerted a life-long, tremendous effort trying to get her hair to stay curly. It would curl easily enough, but even the slightest mixture of wind, rain, or humidity would make her waves fall right out, leaving her disgruntled as she tramped away with her limp, unraveled strands. If we ever had an outside engagement, she immediately became an atmospheric conditions monitor inside and outside of the car, making sure that the windows were opened no more than a crack, to insure the safety and survival of her coiffure. It was one of the few natural defnses she held over the living horrors of having her type of hair.

The issue was so significant that for years she mercilessly contemplated how to change the DNA of her offspring, so they would not be burdened with her self-proclaimed albatross. The answer was clear: marry a man with curly hair, to insure that her children would be blessed with the same. Much to her chagrin, all four of her girls ended up with stick straight hair, and the same nearly manic obsession of wanting what you will never naturally have. Apparently, in our family, curly hair is a recessive gene. Kristy and I ended up with the family treasure, but not until our early twenties. Most of our childhood it was just thick and wavy, which was still, in Gram's mind, better than what she could ever dream of, making sure we appreciated God's precious gift to us.

I would later tease her about choosing a life partner based on that specific criteria. Shouldn't hair texture be at least fourth or fifth on the list of must haves? But what did I know about love anyway?

taken from page 44: The Significance of Having Curly Hair; A Loving Memoir of the Life and Loss of My Grandmother

Getting started!

I initially thought this book was going to be about loss and grieving, which it is, somewhat, for it takes place during the five days my family gathered together during Gram's funeral services. During the writing process, I have laughed so hard that I almost fell off of my chair, cried at the wonderful memories, and tried to honor her life in a way that she would appreciate. I will post little excerpts from the manuscript and you can tell me what you think! Enjoy!