Last Memories

IMG_1569-001This is the last photograph of my immediate family. It was made in May of 2001. My brother Lee, on the left was up from Austell, Georgia, and Larry, next to him, came by from Kodak. Our dad and mother and I lived together at the time. As happens, after documenting our group in early years, we hadn’t made one for  years.

Larry died in his sleep the night this picture was taken. It was unexpected and the shock was felt deeply because he was only 62, had not been sick, and was the first of the family to die.

My dad died in 2003 at the age of 94 and my mother in 2008 at the age of 96. Lee and I are the only two left. When talking to Lee recently it dawned on me that when either he or I pass on, there will be no one left with whom to share the exact recollections of our childhood, our upbringing, our family vacations, our steps towards adulthood.

Share what is important to you with kin and friends–write it down, record it, identify pictures. Reminiscing can make you laugh or cry and bring to mind the small as well as important happenings of the past. Memories can bring back a closeness that often has been lost over the years.

Do it while you can.IMG_1586

 

 

 

Baby & Me

IMG_1257 (2)Who would have thunk it? My new part-time job is babysitting with a curly-headed, energetic 13 month old precious Baby Boy.

My children were born in the 60s and my grandchildren in the 90s and the year 2000. Since then most of my exposure to little ones has been oohing over the grandbabies of friends.

After being interviewed by said Baby Boy, his parents, his dog and six cats, I was hired and reported to work the next day. I remembered to not wear jewelry or leave a cup of coffee unattended. I had forgotten the difficulties of interpreting a pointing finger and uuaghh sound.

This child is very, very active. He walks. He climbs higher and higher each day. He explores everything–the pantry, the shelves of collected glassware, the dog’s water bowl when I forget to put it up out of his reach.

He nods his head in time to Christian music and Fruit Loops commercials. He brings me the books of his choice to be looked at as many times as he wants. He rubs both sides of his curly head when he is really, really tired.

That first day, after waving goodbye to mommy, questions flooded my mind. How big a bite can he manage without getting choked? Did his mother say 2 ounces of warm water plus a scoop of formula into the bottle to then be filled with whole milk? Was that a 4 or 6 oz bottle? And one I never figured out with my own–Does he feel cold when I feel cold for him?

Then there is the new paraphernalia in baby land!  It took me three tries to successfully assemble a four-part baby bottle.

Gerber’s oatmeal and banana cereal?IMG_1362 Replaced by Earth’s Best sweet potato cinnamon quinoa, barley & oat pouch, made with flax, unsweetened & unsalted, vegan with no genetically engineered ingredients in non-BPA packaging.

Snacks are dehydrated puffs of fruits and vegetables. No soda crackers or even a goldfish to be seen.Yogurt is common ground in both our diets.

IMG_1287I love that the household includes pets. Chestnut the dog appears to think of himself as the older brother, one who took kindly to a baby and gladly shares toys. He is ecstatic to receive food dropped from the high chair. He howls in sympathy when Baby Boy gets upset.  Callie the Calico       IMG_1249 doesn’t like for Chestnut to get too close to her and emits a hiss every time that happens. I was holding the boy one day. Callie hissed, Chestnut barked, I jumped, baby clutched, I eeked, baby cried.

Many of yesterday’s toys remain favorites–Fisher Price, dump trucks, wooden puzzles and books. New ones have more bells and whistles, movements, and batteries.

FYI:  Barefoot Books, videos found on YouTube can mesmerize a little one.IMG_1388 Franchising merchandise is represented by a Star Wars sanctioned, stuffed, fluffy Chewbaca.

Three weeks into the job and we are both still standing. My muscles and joints have settled back down to their normal ache level. Ibuprofen, a hot shower and sleep are great restoratives.

What causes aggravation is my aging fingers struggling with those snaps on the legs of sleepers and pants. My lord, it takes me as much time to get them lined up correctly and fastened as it does to convince Baby Boy to take a nap.

Being a sitter is somewhat like being a grandparent. The job carries responsibilities but you can leave at the end of your shift happy to pass the torch back to the parents.

I love that at my age I have been given this amazing opportunity to watch a little one develop.IMG_1244

His eyes take in an action and you can almost see his brain turning it over until it is added to his memory bank.IMG_1304

Words are becoming important to him. Momma, Daddy, ba (for bottle), dog, cat, moo are on the tip of his tongue. When was the first time he heard “no” and turned with a measured look to see if you were serious?

His sense of humor shows as he anticipates the last page of the book where he sees himself in a mirror and starts chortling before we get there.

And that smile….which could be why one day I pranced around the kitchen doing a cheer leading routine, using colorful tights for pom poms, with a too small Spidyman cap on my head.

 

 

 

Atlantic Avenue

IMG_1200Atlantic Avenue is a song written by RB Morris local poet, songwriter and performer. Atlantic Avenue is a street in North Knoxville (not to be confused with Historic Old North Knoxville) where he lived several times.

RB does a good job of describing the familiar, often the scruffy, of our city–streets, venues, people–in both his songs and poetry. Accompanied by his guitar and usually a band, his presentation style is unique.

At first, not exactly sure how I felt about his breaking off a song lyric to recite lines from a poem, I stood back questioning. It didn’t take long to realize this was an honest performer, RB being RB.

I attended a home concert one evening where he performed and was glad to hear this song, a old favorite for many of his fans. After leaving the concert my friend, Karen, and I decided to cruise Atlantic Avenue to see if we could figure out where RB had lived. It was after midnight on a hot summer night. We didn’t have any luck but it was a nice way to hold onto the mood.

Lyrics from Atlantic Avenue

by RB Morris

“Windows in old homes, glowing rosy in the night…..”

“Alley cats and nightbirds playing in the shadows and the machines….”

“ And darkness falls forever on broken wheels and dreams…”

Can you see it?

Note from RB: I wrote all the lyrics to the song, as a song it is a co-write with the late Terry Hill who wrote the music.

More About Books

Here is a “book” report from Cathy Kodra who last year concentrated on reading memoirs:

I read: The Liars’ Club and Lit by Mary Karr
The Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto
The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith H. Beer
Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd
The Winged Seed: A Remembrance by Li-Young Lee
The Things We Carry by Tim O’Brien
Barefoot to Avalon by David Payne
The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

My favorites were those memoirs by Amy Tan, David Payne, Tim O’Brien, and Sue Monk Kidd.

The interesting thing that occurred was that as I began reading from my list of memoirs, I started being drawn to various other nonfiction titles–not memoir, but nevertheless nonfiction, which has not been a strong choice for me until 2014 / 2015 (except for writing craft books and some metaphysical publications).

I read:
The Grain Brain by David Perlmutter(not convinced), Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (not to be missed),          
The Age of Miracles by Marianne Williamson,
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin,             On Becoming an Artist by Ellen Langer (she’s become one of my favorite authors, and I’m currently reading another book of hers titled Mindfulness),
We Know Nothing by Tim Kreider(best and most honest book of personal essays I’ve ever read),
The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama XIV,     Bluebird:Women and the New Psychology of Happiness by Ariel Gore,                                           The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rub,               Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, and               One Mind by Larry Dossey.

 

IMG_9508-001C. Ann Kodra works as an independent editor in Knoxville, TN. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in journals and anthologies including Blueline, Cavalier Literary Couture, Common Ground Review, Cutthroat, drafthorse, MOTIF (vol. 1 & 3), New Millennium Writings, Now & Then, Prime Mincer, RHINO, Still: The Journal, Yemassee, and others. She is a contributing editor for New Millennium Writings and an associate editor for MSI Press, California.    

Resolutions

I do hereby resolve for the year 2016……..

  • to keep in my heart the joy and love I felt during Christmas 2015.
  • to push myself when inertia engulfs me.
  • to use my talents.
  • to squeeze more laughter out.
  • to connect to the positive energy around me.
  • to remind myself that one person’s actions can make a difference.
  • to be ready to listen rather than speak.
  • to spend minimum time wondering why I can’t remember someone’s name.
  • to lie in grass on a spring day.
  • to accept the things I cannot change.
  • to relish my children.
  • to sweat only the big stuff.
  • to practice those exercises so I can remember people’s names.
  • to build on honoring myself as I honor others.
  • to ignore urges to overeat, overdrink, under exercise.
  • to keep a carrot-games, travel, books-in clear sight at all times.
  • After the name remembering exercises move on to “where did I put my…”100_1766