Only If I Knew…

“I wish I was a boy, Grandma.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Boys don’t get their monthly thing and they don’t have to birth babies.”

I remember thinking the same thing. I also remember how unfair the world seemed, growing up in the era of Women’s Lib, recognizing the broad stroke of inequality.

I didn’t have any pat answer in the moment. After she left, I wished I’d said the things no one ever said to me:

Life is about choices. You don’t have to do anything.

All experience is valid.

We cannot know why we are born a certain way, but if we are patient and trusting, we will come to find purpose.

Everyone struggles; it is the nature of life. What we do with the struggle is what makes a difference.

Not all pain is physical. Enduring pain gives us strength.

The joy you will experience will far outweigh the pain.

It is easy to fear what we don’t understand; in time, your perspective will change.

Give life a chance.

(For Reena’s Exploration Challenge: If Only I Knew…)

A Sleepover and a Surprise

“Do you want to drive by the river and see if we can find the eagles?”

“Yes!  Then I can tell Mom and Dad and August that I saw them!  August loves birds too.”

I smile.  August is two-years-old.  We have picked up Sloane for an overnight with Grandma and Grumpa.

“It’s pretty overcast.  I don’t know if we’ll see anything.”

The days are so much shorter now, and it’s dark by 5:00 p.m.  It’s late afternoon  and we drive along for quite a while without seeing any birds, but Sloane is content to spot nests in the trees.

“What’s up ahead?”

Ric slows the car.  It’s a hawk circling above the road.  It lands high up in a tree across the river.  Sloane and I open our car windows for a better look, noticing a Great Blue heron standing just at the river’s edge beside where we’ve stopped.  I raise my camera, but not fast enough – both the hawk and the heron fly off.

Further along a flock of blackbirds gather, preparing for migration.

Sloane finds this interesting.  Exploring with her is so much fun. ‘Keeping her busy’, she calls it.

“Want to drive by the Little Falls?”

“I do!”

“There won’t be any eagles there, but there might be more herons.”

We pass the falls, but there are no birds, so Ric drives through the park that borders the river above the falls.  The light is fading.

“We likely won’t see anything else today.”

“Well we can back tomorrow,” Sloane suggests.

“Wait a minute,” I interject.  “What’s over there?”

Eagle 4Ric stops the car and I point my camera towards a tall tree across the river.   I can see two dark masses in high up in the tree.  One clearly looks like a nest, but the other…

“It’s a bald eagle!”

“I can’t see it, Grandma.”

Ric hands her the binoculars, but she can’t find what I’m looking at.  The bird is well camouflaged beneath a tangle of tree branches.

“Take lots of pictures, Grandma!”

“I have an idea,” Ric says and slowly pulls out of the park.  He drives back to the main road and across the bridge, turning down the street where the eagle in perched in a tree in someone’s backyard.

The eagle does not fly away at our approach, even as we roll down the windows and remark on his formidable presence.   I take more pictures, and Sloane gets the binoculars to work so she gets a good look.  Then we hurry home to look at our pictures and call her parents.

Eagle 13

Sloane’s dad is impressed with our find.

“I’ve never even seen an eagle,” he says.

Sloane beams.


Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Everyday Moments

Everyday is composed of moments, some insignificant, others worth savouring.  Time spent with grandchildren is the latter – their presence, always refreshing, the interaction guaranteed to leave a warmth that glows long past our parting.

Through them I alive again, reminded of my own childhood, and how pleasure is to be found in the simplest of things, like a bike ride with Dad.  Maybe it’s my imagination but I see myself in each of these little souls as if somehow my essence is sewn into their personalities.

This one, fiercely independent, loves the taste of watermelon, does not care that the sweet, watery dribble stains her clothes.  She’d rather be naked running through the garden anyway.  She is two.  I am reminded of old movie film reels my father had taken that show me, hair unbrushed, running away from the camera without a stitch on.


artistThis one, more sensitive than her younger sister, is content with a journal and pen – will spend hours drawing or colouring, conveying through images what is important in her life, as well as the depth of her imagination.

She wants to know how things work, is curious about bugs and animals, the sky, the weather; says she will be a scientist and an engineer when she grows up.

We are kindred souls.

FloppedFinnThe first of my granddaughters, now seven, is smart, loves reading, and puzzles, and demonstrates athleticism.  She knows her own mind, never misses a nuance, and loves to entertain by switching accents and generally being goofy.  We are best of friends.   I am reminded of a younger girl, labelled a tom boy, whose imitations of Lily Tomlin became a family legend.  Laughter is a gift we share.

Every day is composed of moments and some of the best, for me, are spent in the company of these three young ones.

(Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is offered weekly, with rotating hosts.  This weeks focus is everyday moments.)



Come Play, Gamma

faces“It feels like my heart and my thumb changed places,” five-year-old Sloane says carefully guarding her injured digit.

I can’t help but laugh.  She can be a little dramatic, this one.

“Can you get us a tissue?” I ask her older cousin.

“I don’t need it!  It stopped bleeding.”

The blood has bubbled up on the end of her thumb where she scraped the skin off.

“Just in case,” I respond.

Finn tries to squeeze in on the other side, so I shimmy over, and the three of us snuggle on the couch.  On the coffee table in front of us sits a present.

“You can open it Grandma,”  Finn offers.  “It’s for you.”

“I’ll wait till everyone is else is here. I am their Mom, you know.”

“It’s because of you that we are here,” Finn says, and then remembers my mom.  “Actually it’s Great-Grandma.”

“Right.  What if my mom didn’t have me?”

“Then we wouldn’t be here!” Finn’s eyes are wide.

“That’s something to think about, isn’t it?”

“It sure is!” says Sloane.  “That’s weird.”

MomnbabeTwo-year-old August appears and immediately starts to unwrap the present.

“No!” We all chorus, laughing at the baby’s antics.

She climbs onto the couch beside her sister and pretends to sleep, snoring noisily.   We join in the game.

Being a grandmother is the best.  Removed from the constant deadlines, worries, and obligations of parenting, I am free to just soak in each precious moment.

Dinner is ready and we file outside, into the sunlight, and find a seat at the table. Adult hands join in to fill up plates and I go off to find drinks for the girls.  It’s a beautiful day, and the first BBQ of the season.

Still eating her hamburg, August slides down off her chair and reaches for my hand.

“Come play, Gamma.”

There’s a gravel path beside the deck, with odd shaped patio stones laid randomly offering a walkway.  The older girls are hopping from stone to stone trying to avoid the gravel.  August, still holding onto my hand, is walking along the second step which wraps around the deck.

“Careful,” she says in a sing-song voice.  “Careful, August.”

fullonFinnWe play till I am so tired, I need to rest, and I say my good-byes and go in search of Grumpa, who has disappeared.  He is asleep on the couch in the family room.  I seek out the couch in the living room and put my feet up.

Finn follows me in.

“What are you doing, Grandma?”

“Having a rest.”

She plops down next to me and leans in.  Sloane appears and sits on the large lazy boy across the room.

“Play with me Finn?”

Auggie shows up and wants up too.  The lazy boy spins on its base and the girls giggle and squeal.  The rest of the family pours in.  It is time for everyone to go home.  Grumpa is still sleeping.  I wake him up so that we can leave my son and his wife to their peace.  It has been a full day.

“Thanks again for having us,” I hug them; “and enjoy the quiet.”

I put the seat back down and close my eyes on the way home.  Processing the events of the day, I smile.

I am feeling very blessed.

Just Tell Me I’m Not Cute


Never understood it when Dad called me cheeky as a kid, although I always recognized a tone of approval.   Then I saw it in my own children: that look of sheer defiance that melted my heart every time.

This photo of our youngest granddaughter exemplifies the epitome of cheekiness, don’t you think?

(In response to today’s Daily Post photo challenge.)

Media: A Child’s Perpective

“Can we watch something?”  My four-year-old granddaughter climbs onto the bed and snuggles in.  It’s been a routine we’ve shared as long as I’ve been ill.

The question makes her parents cringe; they are trying hard to raise their child without excessive screen time.  Cable TV does not exist in their world, so coming to Grandma’s makes it special.img_1948

“Why do you love watching ‘something’ so much?” I asked Sloane this morning as she crawled into my bed after a sleepover and asked me to turn the TV on.  Her answer was swift and surprising:

“Because I get to decide who I want to be.”

“You mean you watch the characters and pick the ones you want to act like.”

“Yes.  Now can we watch something?”