My maternal and paternal grandmothers played important roles in my life and I’m lucky my parents let me spend lots of time with both of them. Looking back there was never enough time. Something I heard last night touched me and got me thinking about roles that grandparents play in the lives of grandchildren.
I was talking to my fellow co-conspirator and friend, Myra who is also the grandmother on the maternal side of my grandson, Aidan. I am his paternal grandmother. Myra is his maternal grandmother. How lucky Aidan is to have her.
We had a good time last night spending the last (hopefully) Friday night watching Aidan being an only child, reminding him of that fact and watching carefully (and sometimes painfully) his poor mom who is in her last few days of ordered bed rest.
Our little girl’s room is all ready. Pray, God, that the doctor and the sonogram is right and she really is a girl because there is just too much pink, rose, rosebud-red and lovely sweet little girl items to return and it wouldn’t be fair to a newborn little boy.
Getting back to our little five year old boy, Aidan who told his grandmother, Myra a story the other day as she was taking him to school. He informed her that he remembered what it was like in Heaven before he was born and came to earth. Aidan said that he was in a series of rooms and they kept moving him from room to room. He said he met different people in these rooms. One person he remembers meeting was the first president. “The first president, you say,” Myra said. “Who was that?”
“Well, that was President George Washington!” Aidan said emphatically.
Sitting around with Myra and watching our grandson play is just the best. I wish she lived here but she’s a steel magnolia from Louisiana. She will stay for a month after the baby is born so I will be having more than my usual share of coffee for the next month with one of my very best of friends.
Yesterday’s celebration of Valentines Day was sweet and savory for the females in our family. It was a sweet day to throw a shower for my daughter-in-law who is expecting our first granddaughter in early March. They say that it’s proper to give showers for first time mothers only but this second time mother is expecting her first daughter this time. Little girls can’t wear their big brothers’ hand-me-downs. (even in these supposedly gloomy times)
My sister, Lucy, daughter, Kate and I love to talk about all-things-party: color, theme, feeling, design, menu, and budget, so as we mulled over our plans for the shower I looked into some of my albums to find my collection of antique Valentines. These Valentines tend to be less pink and more red, violet and vibrant in their presentations. None of my children or grandchildren or my childrens’ spouses are pastels in any sense of the word, all are rich and vivid, colors as individuals. Lucy, Kate and I all agreed there would be little pink in this Valentine Baby Shower.
The Valentine Baby Shower would have as it’s basic theme, antique Valentines.
The most romantic of all poems makes little use of the word, pink. I would never suggest that the color be banned, perhaps just lessened. We used just a little of the pink in some of the napkins and fluffy paper to soften the edges. I had fun going shopping at The Now and Then Shoppe where I found the beautiful red and white vase and at Target where I found the heart trees. I would say that I’ve done my share in helping to boost the economy in our local area.
My sister, my oldest daughter and I took on the happy task of putting the party together. Lucy helped Kate arrange the flowers and the two together went out early in the morning to find the best and tastiest selections for the table. The cake was an Italian Creme purchased from Sacred Grounds, a fun little coffee shop-Italian deli located in downtown Fort Smith. The punch was made of cranberry juice and ginger ale. We had creme puffs, fresh strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce, almond flavored heart shaped cookies and for the savory: two kinds of crostinis: artichoke and chicken fajita, mozzarella puffs with Marinara sauce, and little parmesan cheese straws.
We sat together later, after the guests had departed and watched the baby having hiccups in Joni’s tummy. We examined the pretty little baby girl outfits that were given as gifts and we watched as the light of the day grew gradually more dim, and we savored the memories the day had given.
The days before a new female Donoho emerges into the world are full of anticipation, for her world will be a very different place than the one her grandmother entered fifty some years ago and even the one her own mother was born into twenty some years ago. This baby girl’s world will be starkly different but our hopes for her are not unlike those our own ancestors cherished for us. I hope our little granddaughter will have dark black hair and a milk white complexion like her mother and will be an honest and trustworthy individual like her father.
I hope she will grow up in a country that still values freedom and love of family and God. I hope she will come to know her Creator at an early age and she will make Him her best friend and guide.
Most of all, I hope she will be born healthy and that the birth will be a safe event for both mother and baby. That we are already celebrating before her birth should in someway tell her how we are anticipating her arrival and how welcome she will be in our lives and in our family.
No, I wasn’t in Washington D.C. or New York City. I definitely wasn’t watching Obama’s press conference. If we’re considering the festivities in the works in the nations’ capital I’m certain that I wouldn’t find Santa Claus at any of Nancy Pelosi’s stripped down versions of Christmas. She would have Santa dressed in green.
No. I saw Santa Claus while I was at work!
I had parent pickup duty after school today. I heard some students say, “Look! There’s Santa Claus!” so I looked in the direction they were pointing and inside a car was a man with a white beard wearing a red suit and a red hat.
A little girl looked up at me, pointed over at the car and said, “That’s my ride.” I walked her over to the car and opened the door for her.
The man inside said, “Betcha don’t get Santa picking you up every day!” and then he started to laugh.
He had an authentic white beard, blue eyes and looked just like Santa. The little girl, whispered to me, “That’s my grandpa.”
I don’t believe her.
I think he really was Santa Claus.
We haven’t been able to identify the individual babies but they were members of my Dad’s grandmother’s family. Kathryn Ford Mackey had several sisters and brothers and they were very close-knit. Presumably, these children grew up in Bentonville in Northwest Arkansas during the turn of the century. If they lived to be adults, World War l, the Great Depression, Prohibition and World War ll would occur during their life spans.
These infants were born before abortion became legal. They were members of a family that believed in God and attended the Methodist Episcopal Church. From the appearance of the photo their mothers and fathers most likely doted on them.
This generation of babies were born before the media age. They very likely lived and died within the region where they were born. It’s possible that a few of these babies (when they grew up) were able to take a flight in an airplane. I know my great grandmother had that opportunity. Kathryn Ford Mackey saw the inventions of the automobile, the telephone, the radio and television, and the atomic bomb.
Since most children, male and female, until the age of three, were dressed alike during the early nineteen hundreds there is a possibility that one or more of the children in the photo were male. There is a possibility that one of the babies suffered from Downs Syndrome.
Unlike life today, these children were born at home. Back then there were no maternity wards. Females were skilled at that sort of thing. There was little understanding of mental and physical disabilities. But still, there were Annie Sullivans.
The parents of these children didn’t have a Toys R Us in their town to shop for toys. The mothers sewed their childrens’ clothing by hand, and made bed linens with the help of a spinning wheel and loom. I do know my great great grandfather, Thomas Weir Ford was a whittler and I suspect he may have been the grandfather of the babies in the photo. Most likely they were given handmade toys he made for them.
By 1889 Bentonville, Arkansas (hometown of the late Sam Walton of Walmart fame) was a well established small town. There was a candy store, a bank, a tobacco shop, a bakery, and grist and saw mills.
These children were sent to school but the school year only lasted three or four months my grandmother has told me. They had great literature to read, Dickens, Twain, Shakespeare and Swift. The city of Bentonville invested in a library early on.
Most of life revolved around the family, the church and the farm. Fruit farms were plentiful in Northwest, Arkansas. It was once called the “The apple orchard of America.” My great uncle Eddie recalled going to his grandparents’ apple cider farm and company and being given an apple by his grandfather.
Although Northwest Arkansas was and still is the strongest region in Arkansas for Republican politics it would be mere speculation to surmise that the offspring of the Ford family were indeed Republicans. Considering my great great grandfather, Thomas Weir Ford’s pride in going to Confederate Reunions it is doubtful that he would have voted the “Yankee way.” The family was known to be conservative in their views however.
The Americans who lived during the turn of the century did not have the advantages that their modern day counterparts do. The great advances in medicine comes to mind. Many children today have never heard of polio or diptheria but it was an ever present worry during the turn of the century.
We book a flight and fly across the globe at a moments notice. We have so much wealth that we outsource tedious and menial jobs. Our great grandparents weren’t able to use a cellphone to call for help if their buggy lost a wheel or their model T Ford ran out of gas. Life may have been simpler one hundred years ago but much more physical labor was required from both males and females.
The sweet babies in the top photo lived in a different America; there were less opportunities perhaps, but there was also much more gumption.
Some Americans in this generation grew up and stayed on the family farm, some left it to go to WWl, others simply raised up a new faithful generation which defended our country in WW ll.
One mighty generation beget another. The Greatest Generation didn’t grow on a tree of course. Little children like the ones in the photo became the parents of the GIs who stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day.
Perhaps in my speculation I’ve gone too far in imagining what the individual babys in the photo may have grown up and accomplished in their lives. For me it’s hard to look at a baby’s face without getting maternal in my emotions. Maybe Grandpa Ford looked at them and prayed they would never have to face war or battles like Shiloh.
One thing we do know for sure is that these children were Americans on the brink of life and would pass through amazing and perilous times.
When I look at my own grandchildren’s faces I wonder what they will see in their own lifetimes. Will they will continue to grow up in freedom?
I pray they will.
Michelangelo’s David, in a moment of intense concentration, about to do battle with the giant, Goliath. Not only was the David’s stance alert, natural and graceful, the face revealed from every angle, a readiness for action.
Michelangelo knew about anatomy, having studied it at the morgue of the hospital of Santo Spirito. He spent hours there, dissecting bodies and learning about the skeletal structure. Although it was a grisly undertaking, it was there he gained his amazing ability to bring forth life from a block of stone.
The block of carrara marble, from which the seventeen feet tall, David would emerge, had been sitting unused in the workyard of the cathedral of Florence for over thirty years. Many artists had attempted to fashion a form from it, including Agostino di Duccio but with no success.
In 1501 Michelangelo was commissioned to create the biblical King David by the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool Merchant), who were responsible for the upkeep and the decoration of the Cathedral in Florence.
The abandoned block of misshapen marble became Michelangelo’s and he worked to free the figure he knew was inside. The result is exactly what Michelangelo intended, David’s physical perfection was merely the outward sign of his inner state of grace.
Michelangelo said of his work, The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.
Not long before Michelangelo’s death he burned some of his poems, drawings, sketches and cartoons. Some have surmised that he didn’t want the world to see all the work that went into his completed works. Others suspect that Michelangelo, remembering Savonarola’s bonfire of the vanities in his youth, was looking towards the next world and the salvation of his soul.
But what remains of his immortal works reveals that Michelangelo is the greatest of all artists in an age of great artists.
I discovered Michelangelo and his works when I was very young and remember reading the story, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone when I was in eighth grade. The book captivated me and urged me on to learn more about my hero, Michelangelo.
My most treasured high school graduation gift was a large, thick book with all of Michelangelo’s works. I planned to take a two week graduation school trip sponsored by my high school English teacher to Florence but dropped out when my parents counseled me that I had to choose between the trip and my first year of college because they couldn’t afford to do both. I made the decision to put the trip off until another day because I wanted to go to college.
Seven years later, when my husband and I were stationed in Germany I signed up for an officers wives trip down to Florence. The day we were to leave the trip was canceled because of an “earthquake” so the trip was changed to a shopping trip to Northern Italy. I was disappointed but went, determined to one day go to Florence.
My daughters, niece and I finally got to Florence in the summer of 2000. It was thrilling to finally be in the Accademia Gallery where the David stands in all of his glory. As we stood around the giant, my daughter was taking some photos (many of the tourists were doing so) and a female security guard approached her and in broken English demanded that she leave. I could have stayed but didn’t want to be separated from my daughters and niece so I left.
I saw the magnificent David but had to leave too quickly. So now I have to go back.
We visited the cathedral while we were in Florence. All visitors were asked to cover their heads and shoulders and we did. Michelangelo’s tomb was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1570.
The three figures are the muses of Sculpture, Architecture, and Painting.
Among the many memorable quotes of the great man, the essence of Michelangelo is this: “I am a poor man and of little worth, who is laboring in that art that God has given me in order to extend my life as long as possible.”
Michelangelo died on February 1564, at the age of eighty-nine. He was still working, the last days before his death, on his final work, the same as his first, an unfinished Pietà.
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.
Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.
That this day, Good Friday, could bring so much joy and hope into the world through the death, on the cross, of the Savior, Jesus Christ, the creator of all things, has always been a mystery to me but from a little child of five years of age, I have believed.
During the agony and prayers that brought Jesus to the point of sweating blood in the “olive press”, the Garden of Gethsemane, his faithful disciples fell asleep. They couldn’t wait and pray with the Lord for a mere three hours. When I was a child I was scornful of that fact. What weak men, I thought.
Now, with the experience of years, I know how weak I am. How many moments of my life have been wasted and frittered away when I needed to be wakeful? Too many.
I became a Christian very young and remember how concerned were my parents and my pastor that I might not have conprehended what it meant to pray the sinners’ prayer. But I remember clearly, and although my understanding might have been that of a child, I knew in Whom I believed.
The joy and comfort of my faith has never, ever let me down. As it is written, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:6
When I was in junior high school mixed chorus we sang glorious Latin choir music and one piece that is still in my mind is Surely He Hath Borne Our Grief. I sang the song before I read the verse so the music of our Lord’s sacrifice is still with me.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all….
He poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:4-6, 12)
The grief, anguish and darkness that descended on the world the day Christ was crucified didn’t last. The Resurrection morning was bound to come.
Back in the day I used to create special bulletin boards for my church. This is a photograph of one.
When I was a child the depiction of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd in the Gospels was the most memorable image to me. It was comforting to know that God would seek throughout the universe and time to find His children. I could grasp that concept easily. But, I was perplexed about a shepherd who would leave the ninety nine to go in search of that one lost sheep. What, I wondered, would happen to the ninety nine left alone?
As I grew up I began to understand.
Matthew 18:12-14 (KJV)
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that [sheep], than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
The foreshadowing/promise of Christ the Good Shepherd came centuries before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
Isaiah 40:10-11 (KJV)
Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
I constantly have to put away my rebellious goat nature for that of sheep. The humble little creatures are in constant need of care and supervision.
The night before my maternal grandmother died she was quoting the 23rd Psalm. That was noteworthy because she was suffering from Alzheimers. The horrible disease managed to ravage her body and mind but it couldn’t touch her soul.
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Things we learn as children stay with us.
Sissy Willis writes… Even as we were brought up in the least-liturgical of Christian churches — the Unitarian, once a brave, truth-seeking New England faith, now way beyond the pale in the aftermath of its engobblement by the left — we did memorize the 23rd Psalm way back when, and rereading it today, with its poetry and understanding of the human condition restoring our soul, our cup ranneth over.
The Anchoress has a post on another kind of shepherd who suffers from linguistic stones thrown at him daily and yet stays faithful to his mission.
What a weekend. It flew by as we celebrated our sons and brothers service on Armed Forces Day with a family picnic. On Sunday we traveled to Silver Dollar City, Missouri.
For I know the purposes which I am purposing for you, says Jehovah; purposes of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11