Monday, August 13, 2018

Full Grown

C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet 

Good Monday morning. 

Last week I told you I had a few specific goals for the week ahead. I am happy to report I met all of my goals, which were to get Reagan to her endocrinologist appointment on Wednesday, get the kids a hair cut, &, well, I think those were my only goals. Keep in mind the doctor's appointment is an all-day affair since the endocrinologist is located in Jackson. Here's how it all unfolded. 

I know I got up & drank some coffee & posted a blog last Monday. Beyond that, it's all a bit hazy. I think the kids & I went to the grocery store. I believe I may have exercised at some point. 

I do recall Tuesday. Tuesday morning I was up & in the shower by seven-ish. The kids wanted another Chick-fil-A tiny biscuits breakfast, & we had big dinner plans that night, so I bit the bullet & took a shower & put all my make-up on that morning. The Chick-fil-A workers who are used to my fresh-from-bed look no doubt did not recognize me all clean & showered & put together.

That evening we enjoyed an excellent dinner at The Warehouse to celebrate my in-laws' birthdays, which fall on August 6 & August 8. Henry left dinner with my parents, with whom he spent Tuesday night & most of Wednesday due to Reagan's appointment in Jackson.

Tuesday night I was tired. I knew we had a long day in Jackson on Wednesday, & I wanted to get in bed with a hot cup of tea like the old woman I am. I lifted the lid on the canister where I keep tea bags, & I guess I had some lotion on my hand, or I am clumsy, or I was extremely tired, or some combination of all of the above, because as soon as I lifted the canister lid it slipped from my fingers & shattered when it hit the granite countertop.

I didn't curse aloud because Reagan was in the kitchen with me, but I did curse in my head. I was agitated that the lid broke, yes. I was also just sad because my grandmother got me my canister set when I got married. I registered for all this Fiesta Ware, & I really wanted this lovely ivory canister set. When the lid shattered, my mind flashed to these pictures below. I have a weird memory, & I still remember what a lot of folks (like folks who are not my grandmother) got me & Trey as a wedding gift. I suppose it's because I am a visual person, & I wrote out all those thank-you notes, so between seeing it in print & writing it out myself, I formed some permanent name-gift associations that stuck.

You can see the three lovely canisters in the photo above on the day I received them. I still love my Fiesta Ware. I know I love my canister set because not once in the last decade have I even looked at another set of canisters in a store or online. If you've ever wondered, no, you cannot buy the lid to a Fiesta Ware canister so far as I can tell. You have to buy the entire canister if you need to replace just a lid. I'll probably end up buying the replacement canister, & I can use the intact part of the currently lidless canister to hold cooking utensils or something. 

Wednesday Trey & Reagan & I traveled to Jackson to see her endocrinologist. Reagan's A1C was a 7.4, which is good. It is fine. I want a seven. With her now wearing a sensor most of the time, a seven is doable without sending her dangerously low at times. The thing with an A1C is that the number represents the average blood sugar over a period of a few months; lowering your A1C isn't great if you're lowering it by spending too much time dangerously low. You want to lower the A1C by staying in range as much as possible, which is between 80 & 180 for Reagan. You don't want to sit at 250 all day, but you also don't want an improved A1C because you're waking up at 45 every morning. Both are dangerous numbers, especially if they're not corrected quickly. Diabetes is like riding a seesaw, only every day you hop on to ride to discover the rules of operation you learned yesterday have been changed. And maybe today they're written in French.

I snapped this of Reagan on our way home. She had her yearly blood draw, which was only traumatic for like two seconds because the nurse found a nice vein on the first try, thank goodness. 

Trey had to be in Baton Rouge early Thursday morning to interview LSU's finest law students who're looking for jobs, so he rented a car in Jackson & drove to Baton Rouge from there Wednesday afternoon. This meant Reagan & I were left to make the drive home from Jackson on our own. 

When Trey concocted his plan to rent a car in Jackson, he asked me if I'd be okay driving me & Reagan home from Jackson. I laughed a little & answered in the affirmative. In my head I was thinking of that scene in Pride & Prejudice when Caroline Bingley & her catty friends completely overreact to Lizzie's decision to walk the three miles from her family's home to Netherfield because she is concerned about her sister, Jane, & wants to comfort her at Netherfield. Jane Austen didn't just throw in random plot points. Sure, Lizzie's decision to assertively walk to Netherfield alone results in her close confinement with Mr. Darcy, but it also functions as an opportunity for Miss Austen to comment on the ridiculous idea that a woman could not, or should not, walk a few miles alone. Both the exercise aspect of it as well as the unaccompanied female aspect of it  were quite scandalous.

Anyway, I managed to safely drive me & Reagan home from Jackson despite Trey's momentary lapse into the 1800s. We arrived home, I dozed in my bed for about an hour, & then I made the drive over to my parents' house to retrieve Henry. The three of us came home, climbed in my bed, & we all slept for a long time. We slept so long, in fact, that we were almost late for their hair appointments on Thursday. I am not going to tell you what time we were slated to arrive at the hair dresser's place of business. We are late sleepers, okay. Get off our backs. 

I snapped this of Henry's freshly cut hair per my mother's request. 

On Friday I hibernated because I knew Saturday was going to be a busy day. It turns out the shattered canister lid was the tip of the emotional iceberg last week. On Saturday my parents, my sister, my aunt, my uncle, my cousin Emma, & I (along with Reagan) met at my grandparents' house & sorted through things. We discussed who is taking what furniture. My uncle & my cousin painted. My dad cleaned up the yard. I took a stroll through my childhood as I flipped though page after page of photos of, well, me. I was their first grandchild, & I was an absolute rockstar in their eyes. 

Below, me commandeering their (stationary, parked) boat & their car. 

There really was nothing about the 1980s that was not awesome. 

Except maybe my sister's attitude about posing with me in these visors. 

In addition to pictures of me, I hauled home folders full of my grandfather's stuff. A lot of it is his writing, organized into folders labeled Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports Publications, Letters to the Editor, & on & on. 

After I'd gone through photo albums & pulled what I wanted, I went back to the bedroom that served as his office for as long as my memory serves me. There is a bed in there now, but his desk is still there. It was strange to open the drawers & dig through folders with such abandon. He died in 2007. At any time I could've done this, but I guess so long as my grandmother was alive the house was theirs, & the desk was his, & his perfectly labeled folders & their contents were his. My grandmother gave me a great many of his books & his typewriters after he died, but Saturday morning I felt like Dorothy in Oz pulling back the curtain, only in this case the wizard was not all hype & smoke & mirrors. He was a legitimate wizard. He was every bit the organized, meticulous, wordy, sentimental genius I always thought he was. 

He saved cards & letters people sent him. I pulled the letters I sent him when I was in college. I took a postcard I sent them when I was on a trip to Florida as a young girl. I read letters people sent him over the years. Many of them began with a joke about his name, Jesse James. Mr. James, we received your letter. We don't soon forget correspondence from a man named Jesse James. This was a common theme in letters he received. I read cards & letters from people thanking him for his kindness & generosity in various situations. 

He saved newspaper clippings detailing the lives & accomplishments of his children & grandchildren. In a small envelope I found newspaper scraps announcing the birth of their first child, a boy named Jesse Arvin James, III. He was born July 1, 1952. He died the following day. 

So the story goes, my great-grandmother snipped a lock of his hair, this baby who was her first grandchild. I guess I always assumed this was true, but I never wanted to ask my grandmother about it. She went on to have healthy children; she lived to see the birth of four great grandchildren. Still, I am sure she still thought about this baby boy she buried in Memphis nearly seventy years ago. I don't think I gave it much thought until I had my own kids, when you begin to see your parents & grandparents in roles other than their direct relation to you. 

The lock of his hair, properly labeled, was with the newspaper clippings I found Saturday. 

I found this in the folder dedicated to his time in the army. This is his press pass. He was like a functional Hemingway: he was a journalist who covered the war, a sportswriter, an avid fisherman who loved the outdoors, but his marriage was solid & he was at peace with God. 

(the back --->)

Because no one objected & I want to know they're safe somewhere, I took home his collection of stamps he used on the outside of the envelopes he sent all over the country to friends, relatives, & editors of various newspapers. One has his name & address. The other stamps are political in nature. Every letter he sent me was branded with this basic Civics 101 gem:

This is a republic, not a democracy 

A few more photos & I'll hush. These are from my dad's law school graduation:

I had planned to write a little summary of our summer for today's blog. That was the idea bouncing around in my head. I could tell you I read a lot this summer, & we took a trip to Dallas. You already know all that, & it was probably dull the first time I told you so there's no point in repeating it in detail.

In the summer of 2018, I lost my grandmother. There's no possibility I'll look back on this summer & not immediately recall that fact. Both of my grandmothers are gone now. That is, I know, par for course when you're closing in on thirty-eight. I've realized that since my grandfather's death in 2007 I've been in some sort of limbo. He was gone, but she was there, possibly flipping through their countless photo albums at night with her midnight cup of coffee. A black & white photo of him sat atop her nightstand. It's a strange world without them in it, particularly after the large role they played in my formative years, which all came rushing back to me Saturday morning. 

I am grateful for what I found Saturday, what I was able to put my hands on & bring to my home with me. I am far too anal to do this, & I respect his filing system too much, but I can visualize shuffling all the papers I hauled home, watching them fall haphazardly from their labeled folders, making a great pile of them, the lines & lines & lines of words he wrote as well as words written to & about him. I can imagine them showering down, confetti-like, around my head, & I like that image. He is stamped all over the pages, all over the newspaper clippings. There is such a wonderful, wordy, photographic trail detailing their life together & the happiness their children & grandchildren brought them. 

The other day on Twitter I came across this G.K. Chesterton quote:

". . . a thing must be loved before it is lovable."

Saturday morning was a nice reminder that I was loved. I am loved. I don't know that I can accurately be described as lovable on a daily basis, but any flaws are mine & cannot be attributed to anything my childhood lacked. They thought I hung the moon, & for much of my childhood I thought as much too. They spoiled me rotten, & my loving parents balanced me out with a little discipline along the way.

When I broke the canister lid Tuesday night I thought about the C.S. Lewis quote above from Out of the Silent Planet. A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. I guess the pleasure of my years spent knowing & loving my grandparents is now full grown. That thought is accompanied by the aches you would expect: intense love, sometimes palpable sadness, eternal thankfulness for the many, many years we had & the memories we made.

This week there's an all-grandchild (plus their moms) sleepover planned for Nana & Papa's house. I am sure it'll be a calm, orderly affair. Tonight I am, as Reagan's parent, to be oriented, & I will again, as Henry's parent, be oriented on Thursday evening. I've always attended their school orientations, but I really need to listen & comprehend things this year since there are things I need to know pertaining to dropping them off & retrieving them daily; I haven't needed this information in the past since I was employed by their school, but now that I am back in the adjunct saddle, I will take my place in the car  pick-up line. 

I am not sure what my life, our lives, will look like in the year ahead. I don't even know what I am going to do with myself next Monday morning after I drop them off at school & am then free to leave (kidding! I'm going to get some hot coffee & drink it while listening to whatever I want to listen to on the radio before scrambling to put a syllabus together for the course I'm teaching at Delta). 

I'll likely return to school at Reagan's lunchtime at least for a few days to see how she handles it by herself (pretending I am not there looking over her shoulder). She can work her pump by herself now. The plan is to put a note in her lunch with the carb count for everything. She knows how to enter her blood sugar in the pump (either based on the sensor reading or a finger stick), & she knows how to enter the amount of carbs she's eating. The pump then calculates the suggested insulin amount, & she tells it to proceed with dispensing insulin. 

Whether you're facing a routine week or a change of schedule for you & your family that brings with it some uncertainty, I hope you have a wonderfully calm week.  


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