Sunday, December 19, 2010

It Isn't Much to Look at But the Gift is Priceless

I just couldn’t wait for my oldest daughter, Erin to open her Christmas present this year. She was at my house with her husband and baby, Rain, her first child, born this past April. The present under wraps was hardly a prize; it was thirty years old and looked it, but it was priceless in sentiment. When she first unwrapped it she said, “Why are you giving me my music box?” When I said, “Open it,” I believe she understood.

This music box was a gift for my first child’s first Christmas. That was December. I could not afford a fancy gift back then but I splurged on this one. I added a note to my baby, one that told her how precious she was to me although I’d known her for just one month.


When I found the music box in our attic I had only planned on giving it to her so she could take it home. I opened the little drawer attached and took out the note I wrote so many years ago.

 I carefully unfolded it and began to read and then an odd thing happened: the clown behind the glass began to dance. This is a music box that you wind up and when you open the drawer the little clown marionette dances to the song, “Send in the Clowns.” However, I had not wound up the box and the drawer had been open for a good five minutes before the dancing began, when I was halfway through reading the letter with tears brimming on my lids.

Now, there’s probably a perfectly good, scientific explanation for the clown dancing in this case, but frankly I prefer to see it as a sign.

Once I’d read my long-ago letter to my first daughter, the thought came to me that I should now write a letter to her daughter, my first granddaughter for her first Christmas. Rain is the love of my daughter’s heart, just as Erin is to me. I felt it only fitting to write a note for Rain so that thirty years from now she could be reminded just how precious and loved she is, even before we know the woman that she will become.

When I wrote to the infant Erin, our life together as mother and daughter had yet to unfold. Erin has never disappointed me; rather she has made me the proudest mom and I have loved being a part of her journey through life. Married now, working in the animal field, and raising her child with love and affection, I am so grateful that I can be here to witness it all. My own mother, dead just after my first birthday, was not so fortunate. That is why the moments I have had with Erin, her sister, and my three grandchildren are so precious to me. It is this continuity that I strive so hard to maintain. My own history was stripped from me so to create and preserve it for my own progeny is a gift as precious as life for me.

The look on Erin’s face as she read first the letter addressed to her and then the one to her daughter said I am on the right track. It was a moment etched in my mind that I will carry with me forever. And someday hopefully, Rain’s own children will know who I am by these gestures of love and carry on the tradition created by me on that Christmas just thirty short years ago.

The only thing you take with you when you're gone is what you leave behind. -- John Allston

Monday, December 6, 2010

Scary Television and Movies - Not For This Scardy-Cat

Grey's Anatomy is one of my favorite shows, but when I watch it I miss I would guess a third of each episode.  That's because I spend much of my viewing time not watching it.  I am either looking off to the side and seeing the action in my peripheral vision, or I'm watching the top half of the screen, shielding the rest of it with my outstretched hand.
I can't handle the gory stuff. I know it's fake but they make it so realistic and I am completely inept at overcoming the sight of the blood and surgical procedures. Why do they have to show such explicit stuff? Do people really get into seeing it? Isn't their imagination of a scalpel slicing through flesh, or a limb fractured in multiple places, or a blood spurting from an artery enough? Do they really need to see it visually?
I have always been queasy when it comes to human injuries. I say human because I can help an animal that's been critically injured without a moment's hesitation. When my beloved poodle-mix dog, Peanut, was unfortunately smooshed in front of my grandmother's house by a semi, I stoically used a shovel to lift his lifeless body and bring him home to bury. I will always stop on the side of the road if I see fresh road kill in case the animal is suffering and I can be of some help.

In the case of a human-involved road accident, however, I am pretty sure I will be arrested for that rule that you are supposed to help an accident victim; I just couldn't bring myself to see whatever mutilation has occurred. I know I don't have that kind of courage in me. I think it started when I was a little girl and one of my neighbor friends, Linda Senchoway, broke her arm when we were playing on the swings in my back yard. She fell off the swing and began to cry. As she held up her crooked arm she began to walk toward me and I backed away in complete horror and fear. I still regret that action but realize its impact as I can recall that moment all these years later.

Another memory is of living with my grandmother during the years when she was becoming slower and more fragile with age. I was in our kitchen, she in the bathroom. I heard a loud thud and then she groaned. I was struck paralyzed; I did not want to go in there to see my grandma hurt. Luckily, it was a minor fall, she'd stepped on the floor heater vent and her leg fell through. She was not hurt and I survived that scare, as did she.

I just don't get the draw to movies that show images of maiming and bloodshed. I don't go see horror movies, especially the ones that depict scenes of carnage that can happen in real life.



Take Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Saw, for example. I've seen neither but the first one is pretty self-explanatory and the second probably is too. I remember my daughter, Erin, seeing one of my car license plates with the letters SAW in the mix. She didn't like looking at it because it reminded her of that movie. That's my point; why watch images of things that will haunt you forever? What I really don't like about those movies is the idea that someone out there might be vulnerable and mentally unstable enough to watch a movie like that and carry out the actions they saw on the big screen.

That's my rant for this post. I'll keep watching Grey's Anatomy and continue to miss most of the show because I'm saving my brain space for positive images and good thoughts. I plan on having sweet, not scary, dreams tonight.