Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Things We Do for Those We Love

We took our grandson, Gabe, to Scheels recently. We had heard that it was a fun place to visit--and it was. Bears and guns and games and fish. Lots of things to see and do--and the ferris wheel in the middle of it all. Of course we had to take a ride. I have issues with heights, but I thought it would be okay. After all, this was inside. How high could this ferris wheel be? It would be okay.

And it was, for a few turns around. We'd move up slightly and then stop while someone else climbed into a seat. We would go around and then pause for another person to get off. At first, we never stopped at the top, but after the seats were filled and we had made several turns around, each time with my stomach getting more and more unsettled, the controller started stopping at intervals to let people off. And he did this one at a time, so that we stopped about half-way up, then a little higher, then higher, and finally at the very top. And then the same slow descent--stopping at each posting.

As we were in the spot just before the very top, I realized I was having symptoms of a panic attack.But I had my grandson with me, so I couldn't lose it! He mentioned being nervous, so I said, all brave, "Oh, no. Nothing to be scared of. Just look around. What can we see out the windows, on the roof?"!! I was doing everything I could to keep from looking down, to keep from realizing where I was. My knees felt shaky. My stomach was twisting. I felt hot and out of breath. Gabe immediately calmed at my words and started twisting in the seat to look behind us--causing the seat to swing a bit. "Let's sit still," I said calmly, even though I wanted to scream it. "Oh, look, we're starting to go down now," I said, ostensibly to reassure him when it was really for me. That trip down seemed to take forever. When it was finally our turn to get off, I wasn't sure my legs would carry me.
David asked me how it was. In a whisper, I told him, "I will never do that again! It took all my self-control not to start screaming up there." I am sorry for all my other grandchildren: I'm really afraid I won't be able to make myself do it again. You may have to ride with someone else. I will make you lots of cookies to make up for it. I promise.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

shoes. . . and cups

We had our whole family together this past summer. When they start showing up, the signs are always the same:
* Noise levels rise. No one can speak in an indoor voice when we are together. We are happy to see each other, so we laugh and talk and shout over each other. Kids run up and down stairs and through the rooms, shouting and laughing. Uncles toss kids upside down and tickling/wrestling are common. We tell the same stories over and over, with editorial comments shouted from another room, reliving classic family moments.  I sometimes imagine, after everyone leaves, that some of the sounds linger, that some of the voices peep from corners where they might have been trapped, that echoes of laughter rumble out of closets and across the ceilings.

* Cups vanish. We finally instituted a system of plastic cups. We keep a sharpie by a tall stack of disposable white plastic cups, right next to the sink. Each person puts a name on a cup in the hopes that we will all be able to have our own cup and not spread too many germs. At the same time, we don't have to run the dishwasher three times a day just to have clean drinking cups. We line them up in the kitchen window--or, as the line gets longer and longer--against the back-splash. A new tradition has started in the last few years as the grandchildren have gotten older. It started with our boys. One would write his name on a cup. When he came back, the name would be crossed out and a nickname (usually "stinky" or some other such lovely epithet) would be written instead. As the grandchildren watched uncles play this game, they got into the act, so some cups are mostly black with one after another name crossed out. Hard to tell, eventually, whose cup it really is.

* Shoes pile up. We are from Alaska, so we have always had the habit of removing our shoes when we enter a home. It has continued, even though the need is not really the same in Utah. So, when the family gathers, so does the stack of shoes by the door. It's a messy way to enter the house, and it can cause some interesting times when it's time to leave and someone has to dig through the pile to find his or her shoes. And there are, inevitably, lost shoes. But when I see this pile of shoes, I can't help but smile. It means my family is there. And that's a happy thing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

grandchildren and toenails

This past summer we had a family reunion: all 33 of us together for four days. It was heaven. During that time, though, for some reason, my grandchildren kept stepping on my feet, particularly my left foot. Over and over. I don't think my feet are particularly long, but they seemed magnetic.

One night I noticed a cut on my big toe, caused by all the steps that had occurred that day. A few days later it became infected. I tried everything to fix it: neosporin, soaking, etc. I could get the infection to half the toe but no better. My toe looked like a cartoon: swollen, red, and throbbing. After a month of not being able to have anything touch it, I finally went to the doctor. He had to remove part of the nail and put me on antibiotics. So, I had a big, wrapped toe for a week and then just a funny-looking half-toenail. It looked like a long, skinny toenail, and I could still paint it and pretend it didn't look so bad.

Then, last weekend, while visiting our kids, it happened again. A grand-daughter stepped onto my foot, right onto my toe, and snapped the nail that was there almost to the base. It didn't hurt, but now my toe is very unattractive. There is just a sliver of toenail at the base and a big, bulbous toe above it (very sensitive, too). Talk about cartoon!

I don't want to hurry autumn when I can feel comfortable wearing closed-toe shoes. I really want to wear sandals while I still can. I have to admit to a bit of nervousness about the look of this toe, though, wondering what people might think as school starts and I continue to wear open-toed shoes. But I would gladly trade my toenails for my grandchildren being around.  No hesitation there.