Monday, October 20, 2008

Memory Lane

One bed time in September Audrey was asking about my 93 year old grandmother who lives in New Hampshire. She asked what she was like as a mom (she was dear and loving and hands-on with her three kids but also a working mother. She was a nutritionist in charge of the school district's food program). She has always been a mentor to me for so many reasons and I have told stories to Liv and Audrey over the years about baking chocolate chip cookies with grammie, ice skating on Saturdays together, swimming at the cottage, bus trips to visit her from college, goodie bags she'd pack for car rides home, her holiday traditions with full fabulous homemade breakfasts, shopping for school clothes at specialty store Goodnow's and on and on..

So Audrey asked when she could go visit her. I told her how great grammie loves her and sends her cards and gifts and even emails.
"But when can I SEE her," she prodded. "I'm not sure, Audrey. Why do you want to see her so badly?" I asked.

"Because she is alive and I still have time to see her but Papa Bliss (Eric's dad) is not and I don't want the same thing to happen. I want to know what she looks and feels like in person."

That night I booked the trip.

The girls and I left for New England for a few days the start of October. We surprised my mom as it was her birthday. We were welcomed with open arms, much fanfare, and big smiles. It was good to be home.

We spent the weekend in Boston ---
walking down the cobblestone streets in Beacon Hill where I lived during my college years
enjoying the Public Gardens (the girls sat on the duck sculpture which was created after Robert McCloskey's 'Make Way for Ducklings'- a true Boston story I might add!), stopping by Union Oyster House (America's Oldest Restaurant and where Eric and I had our rehearsal dinner eleven years prior)
visiting Simmons College where I graduated from college more than seventeen years ago!
hanging out at the pool and hot tub~
And, of course, strolling down Yawkey Way to Fenway Park-Home of the Boston Red Sox!
Back at my parents house in Western Massachusetts Olivia and I took walks in the neighborhood and relived stories of my youth (I showed her steep, scary "Suicide Hill" where we'd ride bikes, we passed my friend Christa's childhood home, Rusty Anderson's house, the homes of kids that I babysat and popped in to our neighbors for an after dinner chat).

The girls loved seeing my parent's fifteen year old dog, Casey.

They slept in my old bedroom and loved playing with my old toys. Audrey especially loved my baby dolls and even one of my mom's. And she finally got to have a tea party in my childhood home with my mom. Bliss!
We made super memories those few days as my folks showered us with attention and affection. They took the girls shopping and brought us to a beautiful pumpkin patch for some homemade ice cream. We were welcomed to the gorgeous homes of my life long girlfriends and got to enjoy their wonderful, wonderful children whom my children connected with instantaneously. Again, it was good to be home.
And of course, we spent the day with my gram. The highlight of the journey.
Audrey could not keep her hands off of her. Here they are hand in hand as grammie takes us on a tour of her beautiful assisted living facility.
Here they are at Friendly's Ice Cream as gram likes to grab a sundae now and then.
Audrey kept exclaiming throughout the visit, "I can't believe I'm seeing her in person!"
Once Audrey let others get close to grammie, Olivia managed to make a wonderful connection as well.It is this final image below that I will hold in my heart forever in regards to this trip to New England.

Olivia and grammie are making eye contact, sweet smiles are playing on their faces and there is an unspoken easy bond they've formed.
How grateful I am for my family (young and old), for the memories (reliving past ones and creating those anew), and for the process of life (for the roads grammie has traversed and the long, windy unpaved ones that lie ahead for my girls). May my girls revel in the journey and may they have peace and contentment in knowing at the end of the path that leads back home the door will be open and I will be waiting to greet them with open arms.

Thank you, Audrey, for this beautiful homecoming. May you always remember how good it feels to be in Grammie's presence.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Customer Service...Seriously?

Given the current economic state and all the unknowns you'd think most people in the workforce right now would be bringing their "A" Game to their jobs. Apparently not.

I was at my childhood home in New England last week for a surprise visit to my folks and my gram (will post more on that later...) and took the kids to Friendly's Restaurant. THE Friendly's Restaurant where I worked some 23 years ago and where my boss on day one said--"I don't care if you flunked a test, were late for curfew and got grounded by your folks, or broke up with your boyfriend. When you come into this restaurant it's all about the customers and you put on a happy face. Or don't come in that day." I will never forget the advice and I have taken it to heart all these years.

Evidently the wisdom did not get passed down to the woman who served us there last week. She had a full blown hissy fit when we walked in and was spouting off about dirty tables, a staff member that walked out, one other girl that was leaving shortly, how ridiculous the situation was, how poorly run the restaurant is and how she was ready to walk. Welcome.

Fast forward to this week and the girls and I run in to Applebee's for an early dinner. A young family sat beside us and chatted quietly as our server bustled about. While he was nice enough he looked very harried and he just had three tables and the family nearby was leaving. After they departed he gathered up his tip and loudly exclaimed, "Ohhh, lucky me- TEN PERCENT!"

After dinner we had to grab some things at Petco. I noticed I was overcharged for one of the dog's items so the sales person had to call a manager. Enter the guy who's dying to go home. After grabbing my receipt, stomping into his office and barking at another guy that the sign was mislabeled and the items were ringing up incorrectly her returned to face me. "I can't wait to get outta here," he snapped. No kidding.

Today we finally had time to decorate for fall so the girls and I ran into Michael's for a couple of things. As a long line of people grew behind me I inched closer to the counter. The sales woman then announced she's now closed and they're opening another check stand elsewhere. All the people behind me jump in the next line and I am dead last. What happened to, "I'll take the next person in line?"

Clearly there is a message here. I need to stay home and stop spending money.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Do...Still

Eric and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary today. We've been together 17 years to the day. He is at a bachelor party in Vegas this weekend. Seriously.

But he sent flowers. For me...and also two mini bouquets for our girls.

And he called. And texted.

And my heart swelled each time I heard from him.

Truth be told he took me on a surprise weekend escape to Alderbrook Spa on the Hood Canal a few weeks ago knowing he would be out of town on this day. We slept in, had massages, sat fireside, and reconnected.

I sincerely was as relaxed as I appear in the photo below.

The weekend was uneventful which was pure magic. No stress, no issues, no worries.

Seventeen years ago and mere days after we met we had gone for a long walk and spoke very little. He said it was then that he knew we were right for each other. We felt so connected despite the silence and thoroughly enjoyed one another's company.

Over our recent escape weekend he told me during dinner how much he loved being with me. My mind went back in time to that quiet walk that fall afternoon in Michigan.

Hurry home I can't wait to thank you in person for choosing me back then and for still loving me so strongly all these years later.

Happy Anniversary...