Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween Everyone

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I want a love like that

I spent most of the weekend crying. Okay, well not the whole time, but this weekend was extremely emotional for me. Cousins I haven't seen in 7 years were in from California, visiting up at my mom's, so we drove up to see them. My mom had a couple open houses, so there was much food, even more family, and people coming in and out all weekend. Fifty seven individals, with several repeat visitors on Sunday.

The cousins who were in town have lost a mother and a sister in the last two years. One cousin who came to the open house is watching his wife waste away from Alzheimers in a nursing home. Another is a model-gorgeous 27 year old battling leukemia. I've never seen someone rock a headscarf like she does. My mom's brother was treated for a cancer in his head eight years ago, and is not recovering. He's basically withering away before everyone's eyes. He'll be 59 on Sunday, but he looks eighty. My family seems to be falling apart, literally.

But the coolest thing about my family? It was loud this weekend. Really loud. My family knows how to laugh. Hearing stories about the old days, when my grandma and her five siblings were children. About their mother and aunties. I have vague memories of these people, mostly of them just being old. But to hear about their adventures as people of twenty just made me smile.

Another aunt pulled me aside and talked about how her body is so old and worn, but her mind was still thirty two, like me. That she never thought she'd be old in a million years. Yet there she was, pushing eighty, a widow. Most of the old timers there were alone, spouse gone before. I can't imagine what that's like. Don't really want to.

But the hardest thing for me? My grandpa. My sweet grandpa, who taught me to polka. The tenderest soul I've ever known. He looked like Clark Gable back in the day, cool pencil 'stache and wavy dark hair. He danced with me on my wedding day, swirling me around the floor, laughing. His favorite saying when asked "how are you" is "fine as frog hair".

Grandpa isn't fine as frog hair anymore. He's old. He's tired. He uses a lawn tractor to traverse the property to my mom's house, has to take breathing treatments four times a day, and gets winded walking around the house. It's so very sad to me, mostly because I know his mind is sharp as a tack. He has the most beautiful blue eyes and an amazing smile. A war veteran, he refuses to talk about it. Won't watch any war movies. But did pull out a memorabilia box once that contained swastika pins, ones I'm assuming he gained from an enemy soldier. I never asked if that person was alive or dead. I don't think he'd tell me if I did ask. He's that kind of guy. He gets up every day before five, makes coffee and breakfast for grandma and my mom, takes care of his chickens out back, and still gets into town to sign the books at the VFW.

He's watching his son pass away before him, and I think it's aging him even more. He tried to talk about it with me this weekend, but teared up and had to stop. That's where my crying began. I feel like I need to immortalize this awesome guy, to talk about him BEFORE he's gone. He's outlived his parents, his siblings, and quite possibly his own son soon enough. He deserves to hear what people would say about him. I know I'd want to know.

So here it is. You are loved. You are an inspiration. You have taught me so much, from how to hatch a baby chicken to how to love your children unconditionally. You worked hard your whole life, but found time to play. You were a good father before the new era of "involved fathers as true parents" came about. I am so glad you got to see my kids and they got to know you. To see you wear your Santa tie at Christmas. To ride on your tractor.

The most touching part of the weekend came not in hugs and tears, but in a smile. My grandpa got up out of his chair with some difficulty, breath heavy, and crossed through the living room to the kitchen. My grandma was sitting alone on the couch, taking in the scenery. I watched from across the room as she watched him. Her eyes weren't filled with worry, as they usually are. They were filled with wonder. As he left the room, a small smile crossed her lips. Not for show, but because she loves him that much. They've been married sixty years and she still watches him move. She still smiles to herself when she sees him. Sixty years and you actually see the love.

They make me want to love better, love more. Hug my kids and my parents. Love my husband and show him more often.

My family is my heart. I've always said it, but never really experienced it until fifty people tromped through the living room, ate party food, laughed and cried together.

I never really felt it until I saw my grandma's smile.
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This is my grandpa, probably even before he was a father. Definitely before the cool 'stache.

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My favorite photo from my wedding album. *That* is my Bampaw.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I am old

But I haven't lost all rhythm.

I am back to dance class. Finally have a normal schedule I can work around and signed up for a six week pilot class at my daughter's dance studio.

"Adult Hip Hop for Fitness"

There are only three of us in the class, and all of us have a bit of experience (even if said experience was fifteen years ago), so our instructor decided that he could really work us out and use big words, like "chaine and soutenous turns, develope, en lair, jazz squares and digs". Lost yet? Yeah, me too.

I mean, I took ballet about a zillion years ago. Then I took some jazz in college. Then I indulged in some musical theater choreographic hackery. Then I took the crazy hip hop class with Svetlana last summer. Now I have a former male ballet professional (read: HOT, STRAIGHT and NOT AN OUNCE OF FAT) teaching me to do pas de bourre-push turns to "Yeah" by Usher.

Don't get me wrong. I worked it. I did my jete runs around the floor, and didn't pause when my tank top lifted and rolls of stretchmarked fat spilled out. I didn't stop after doing a full floor's length of turns on releve, even though I finished feeling dizzier and drunker than a night of Mike's Hard Lemonade and Tequila Shooters. I even kept going when my pop ups had more junk shaking than a Ludacris video.

I was able to keep my head up and keep up with the class. My instructor even agrees with me that GWB is a fathead and democracy is overrated (don't ask).

He worked my ass off. I'm hot, sweaty, tired, winded, and a bit dizzy.

I'm actually looking forward to going back next week.

But I think I'll invest in a good a foundation garment.