Monday, January 17, 2011

Growing Grandchildren in the Garden of Love

Are you a grandma or a grandpa?

Is your day filled with wet, sloppy kisses and sticky fingers wrapping themselves around your heart? Are you providing a home for a young son or daughter of your own son or daughter because they can’t or won’t, or because, at this moment in time, it is the best choice, for now? Are you the “babysitter”, doing the daily work while you have all the fun so that Mom or Dad can make a living? Are you sharing your home with your child and their family because it is simply too hard to make it separately; or because together you can offer a better life?

I am "Grandma Bevy".

Almost sixty, I have three unique and wonderful grandchildren. It is joyous, it is hard work, it is exhausting! It is an honor to grandmother them and I am blessed beyond measure by their presence and the presence of their parents in my life.

Would you like to write with me about granddarlings? Would you like to take up your pen each day for 20 days and share the delights and hardships of life shared; of love shared? Let me know and I will craft a program just for us. It could be the best present you can give yourself – or them.

The Course will begin Monday, January 31, 2011. We will write each Monday - Friday for three weeks ending Friday February 18th.

Imagine this - each night you will receive a simple phrase to use as your grandma or grandpa glasses the next day. As Nana, or Poppop, you will see your time with your grandchildren through the lens of this phrase. You do not have to be with a grandchild each day to reflect on how they enrich and complicate your life.
Then, each weekday evening, you will sit down and write three paragraphs, yes, just three, about what you "saw" through the lens of that phrase and send it to me.
Twice a week I will reply. No spell check, no grammar monster, just encouragement and delight at reading your words of wonderment and worry, frustration and celebration.
It is such an exciting process; won't you sign up and join me?
The cost is $129. Email me at for more details and a mailing address for your check.
Can't wait to hear from you!


Friday, December 31, 2010

A Split Second

I was traveling east on a country road after picking up my precious granddaughter Nattie B. It was a crisp winter day; new snow still gleaming white. The roads were clear, but the plows had left mounds and mountains every where. I rounded a bend to see a car pulling out of a driveway behind a mile high snow bank. I thought it would turn to the west to clear a path for me to go around, but instead it came to a near stop blocking both lanes. I sized up the space between the telephone pole and the car knowing that I would be heading into the possibility of oncoming traffic. Not enough room. The drivers side door of the other car, car B in the police report written up later, glared at me like a defiant pre-teen.

Plan B.

I applied the brakes deliberately, turned the wheel carefully and then, giving the engine more gas, aimed for the opening between the house on my left and the pole. There was a heavy thud but the Volvo, old and built like a tank, plowed through the wall of snow over the buried tree stump and into the clearing beyond. We glided really, snow flying over the hood of the car in a spray until the front end was buried and the car came to a stop.

Nattie never even cried.
"Why are we stopped in a snowbank gramma? ", she asked.

Car B, unscathed, drove a bit and pulled over and two teen boys jumped out and came running. They saw the little one and, only in rewind did I remember, the color drained from their faces before they heard her speak. They recognized me before I could think of their names. Sweet boys, wonderful boys; I immediately began yelling at them. "Get out of the road, get a coat on!" I bellowed as I reached for my cel phone.

Every fiber of my nervous and musculoskeletal systems went into shock. I trembled as I dialed Nattie's mother, my daughter, thinking I had to let her know we were OK though she had no reason to believe otherwise. I caught my self and switched the call to 911, still yelling at the boys who couldn't seem to move. I would be damned before I would let them get hit by a car now, after I had managed not to kill them with mine.

I could hardly hang onto the phone as I climbed out into hip deep drifts and got into the back seat to release the blessed five point harness and gather Natalie into my arms. I was trying desperately not to spill tears down her cheeks as I caressed her babbling self and tried to give our location to the operator on the other end of the line.

I knew we were OK, instinctively knew that all four of us had escaped harm, but my body wasn't buying it. I quavered and shook and gave the address as west instead of east of the main highway. The skilled voice on the other end just kept asking questions until he could figure out where to send the police.

The red and blue lights were flashing when Elizabeth arrived to gather us both up in her also trembling arms. I fumbled through the glove box knowing that all necessary paperwork was there but unable even to tell what papers to hand over to the officer. He was kind, and gentle and took what he needed from the sheaf I held out, then he took my hand so I could climb up over the snowbank toward Elizabeth who now held Natalie. She ushered us all to her car which beckoned, offering warmth and safety. Nattie declared her hunger reassuring both of us that she was, indeed, just fine.

The boys finally got out of the cold and into their own vehicle and I realized as a mother that I needed to reassure them, to tell them it had been an accident, that I wasn't yelling because I was angry but because I cared, but I didn't have it in me yet. That would come in a little while.

A neighbor came out and offerred to help. I had never gotten my one cup of coffee that day and I needed tea. Blessedly he went back inside and moments later came out with a steaming cup filled with the sweet warmth and caffeine my body so badly craved. I was trying to decide if my headache was injury or withdrawal, trying not to make it into something more than it was.

Elizabeth and I each made calls to assemble the family for extra comfort when we got home. Giddily I told Jeremy, my son in law, "You would have been so proud of me!" Jeremy is a mechanic and has no patience for poor driving skills and expected nothing less from me than that I would choose the safe path to avoid injury to his only child. He was proud but not surprised. I was astonished.

I had just a split second to decide. Just a blink of an eye and the story could have ended so differently. I had not had a phone in my ear, a cup of coffee in my hand. I had not been tuning in the radio or reaching for a cookie. My hands and my mind were free and in that split second my brain processed so much information. The ability to think and choose in that single moment astounds me still. It is a phenomenon.

Recently I turned sixty and my family made me a card filled with single words that each person would use to describe me. Deliberate was one of the words. Deliberate. In the aftermath of that split second, I felt deliberate. I chose, very deliberately, not to hit car B that, though I did not know it at the time of deciding, held those sweet teenage boys. I chose, deliberately, not to hit the telephone pole. I chose with minute deliberation to steer my course between the house and the creosote soaked timbers that would surely have killed us. I was deliberate in that split second, and yet.....

As the clock inches toward twelve and we stay awake to watch the ball drop, ringing in a new year, my heart sings out a song of thanksgiving.

I am thankful for Volvo's built like tanks.
I am thankful for seat belts and car seats.
I am thankful for soft, deep snow.
I am thankful for the innocence of three year olds and the grace and courage of young men who set aside their own fear and run to help.
I am thankful for hot tea with sugar and milk delivered by a stranger.
I am thankful for sons and daughters who comfort and friends who truly understand that trauma is not always something you can see.
Most importantly, I am thankful that in that split second, while I was deliberating, I was not alone.
Praise God and pass the Ice Cream for our safety. Praise God!
Oh, and Happy New Year!!! I am so very grateful to be here for it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

God's Helping Hands

I write two of my own blogs, but I also contribute to our churches Advent blog site called Prepare the Way.
Each day I post the daily Scripture reading and a few times a week I comment.

As I read today's passage with the blog title in mind, I was struck by the fact that we are God's hands in this world.

At St. John's we have so many opportunities to help God prepare the way for others, We have a mitten tree for mittens, hats and scarves, a cookie drive for kids in a local residential facility who do not go home for Christmas, a used toy sale where people can come and pick up good, clean very usable toys at very affordable prices. We have cards for adopted families who want and need the same kinds of things we all want and need and we have a Deacon's fund that supports our food pantry in the hopes that those who will not feast, surely, will at least, not go hungry on the Birthday of the King.

A friend of mine contributes to the food pantry and she has started bringing in cake mixes and frosting. She commented that everyone likes a cake now and then. What a selfless, non-judgemental thing to do to help someone celebrate.

Many hands make light work is a saying we all grew up with and it seems that at Christmastime we really put that into action as we all open our hearts to the less fortunate.

The scripture says God
upholds the cause of the oppressed
gives food to the hungry.
sets prisoners free,
gives sight to the blind,
lifts up those who are bowed down,
loves the righteous.
watches over the foreigner
sustains the fatherless and the widow,
frustrates the ways of the wicked,
and that he reigns forever,

So many ways to help others at St. John's.
So many ways to be God's helping hands in the world,

Praise the Lord !

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Identifiers or "We Are Who We Say We Are - Just Ask Us"

The next chapter of Nell the new knee is really a prequel. It is the story of who the knee was before it was Nell.

I was a healthy young woman jumping rope. Then I was a little bit - oh such a wee bit - damaged. But I recovered quickly and became who I became.

Becoming is a funny thing. Somewhere along the way you attach "identifiers" to yourself. I mean the adjectives not the nouns. I was strong. I was always a tomboy kinda girl which was interesting since I was not athletic at all and while one of my identifiers was "strong" another one was "clumsy" ( my grandmother gave me that one and no one ever told me I could refuse it or give it back so I carried it right next to strong- oh well,) I was a worker bee and could outlast all the girls and alot of the boys on any given day on most day's tasks.

So, all that work and being attached as I was to that label, jumprope incident behind me - I became a STRONG woman. And that knee and my identifier carried on together for 40 years. Exactly 40. From 17 to 57, my knee and I did just fine,
( well, except for those times that we didn't; but they never lasted long and aspirin gave way to tylenol which gave way to advil in those forty years so any trouble it gave me was covered. ) And then the knee said "uncle".

Hey, forty years isn't a bad run - right?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The story of Nell-the-new-knee

Rarely does the story of a new knee start and end on the same day. The story of my new knee ( affectionately known as Nell) started decades ago. I will tell this story in three paragraph sound bites. It is a story of patience, determination, stubborn denial, terror and relief. The end of the story is so new, it is still being written. But that is the end and this is the beginning.

I was 17 and graduating from high school in just a few days; the processional line-up had been set. We were assigned our places by our height in heels. I was one of the tallest girls so I was in the back of the line. My shoes were polished, my gown was pressed. Our exams were over - for better or worse. School got out early. We were free as birds.

Joyce and Linda and I were high on life - we were playing jump rope. Yup, you got it right. We were high school kids waiting for graduation and we were jumping rope in the back yard when it happened. I heard it before I felt it but I knew immediately that there would be no heels for me at graduation.

It was just a sprain. No one worried. No one wondered if it would bother me all the days of my life - and it didn't, well, not for years to come. But that week, that hot June week of 1968, the big commotion was that now they would have to change the line up so that I could wear flats - and carry crutches.

That is the beginning of the story of Nell-the-new-knee.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Little Girls

Devotion, Desire and Delight dancing in the street.

They are not quite three and newly seven.
They are sweet and warm and breathy in their personas and in their play.

The dress up box is purple plastic with a domed top like the treasure chest that it is on this summer day.
The older one is a "Fashionista". She has an innate sense of style. She likes flashy, fun combinations of bright colors and mixed textures accessorized with long cotton gloves of white or purple.
She is happy to show the wee one how this game is played.

They announce each new creation, dancing on the street that is the hundred year old hardwood hall floor of gramma bevy's house.
They are bedecked in plastic heels and fuzzy, furry boas.
They drape themselves in gauzy scarves and pink tiaras.
They dazzle us with oranges and reds, golds and deep sea blues of every fabric twisted and twirled about their lithe little bodies.
And then they prance about in tutus of multi-colored crinoline adorned with sparkly see-through gems dancing like fairies in a forest glen.

These sweet little girls are a delight. The elders in the room are devoted to them and desire only that they know that they are beautiful and they are loved.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The parade began before I opened my eyes. I could choose to sleep in; it was hot and I was tired.
I could rise and finish writing final comments - it was time.
I could get up and out and mow the dry, cracked, brown grass that was ankle (and in some places mid calf)deep.
I could drive north and see Aunt Kitty at my mother's house.
The parade of choices marched before me. So I asked myself, "at day's end what would I be most glad that I had chosen?"
I got out of bed, tended the dogs and headed north stopping only to get fresh baked cinnamon rolls from the local bakery.

There were three bespectacled, graying elders just having breakfast when I arrived. They were delighted, but not really surprised, to see me.
They were truly delighted and totally surprised that I carried goodies in the white paper bag I carried.

The parade of choices did not end with my arrival. With only an hour to share what would we talk about? Her life? Mine? The weather?
I picked me, the most selfish and the most selfless choice in the line up. I had begun a writing course since I had last seen Aunt Kitty, one that I wanted to tell her all about. Called Wearing the WORD, it is an amazing way to reflect on Bible passages, and end each day with a parade of words dancing on the computer screen to be sent off to a moderator - me.

The hour and more spent, the band played on. Aunt Kitty had a tradition of going down to the Stuyvesant Falls Bridge on her way out of town every year.
I was running late but the appeal of parading across that bridge, two old ladies, one alot older than I am, won the lottery of time allotment.
We both headed out and met at the bottom of the hill.
And parade is just what we did! Hand in hand we walked, arms swinging, laughing out loud as we took in the sights of the Falls, the rocks below and the sky above.
Oh what a treat!

A prayer warrior beside me I thought to myself, "Please God, in the parade of choices that marches before me each day, help me always choose this well. Amen."