Sunday, February 27, 2011

You can sing this song when I'm gone.

Last night as I tucked in my little Haitian American grandchildren on the last night of their visit I sang them the same song that I sang every night of their visit. This visit, the last visit, every visit. The same song I sang to my own sweet children as I tucked them into their beds long ago and far away. When did I sing the last lullaby to my own children? When did I last read them a bedtime story? When did they last crawl up on my Mama lap for comfort or rest? If I had known that any of those times were the last time I would have held them tighter or sang just one more verse...

Last night as I sang to the children I had to choke back the tears. To say goodbye once again. I know as I attempt to clean up from 2 weeks of nine grandchildren in the house I will find stray socks, unfinished apples, colored pictures with the words "To Nana" printed on the top of the page. What blessing..

When James Taylor first sang this song did he know I would carry it in my heart? Did he know that when I came to the line "But I can sing this song, and you can sing this song when I'm gone?" that I would be thinking about my grandchildren returning to PA, and to Haiti and thinking also about the day when I will actually be gone? Hoping that my children and my grandchildren would sing this song to their children and their grandchildren and somehow it would connect us even when i am not here? Not being morbid..just real...

But now, today.. the song says that the distance that divides us, the cultures that separate us, the days, weeks and months that stand between us can dissolve when we close our eyes and listen to a lullaby.

James Taylor - Your Can Close Your Eyes
(here is a link to my favorite lullaby:)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Giving up the good for the better.

Today was full day #1 with my Haitian American grandchildren staying at our home in Manteo. It was also a day off for me and a lot of 'catch up' household chores needed my attention after the blessing of having all of my 9 grandchildren around last week.

My mom always said "Many hands make light work." and she taught us as children about 'beating the clock'. So with rags and paper towels and spray bottles filled with non-toxic cleaner I set out to 'beat the clock' with 7 yr. old Nia, 6 yr. old Nicok and 3 yr. old Josiah. The job was going splendidly. Josiah was spraying the lower half of the kitchen window and wiping it with his cloth. No harm done. Streaks go away easy enough. But as I looked back over I saw Nia on the outside of the window standing on the porch spraying the window through the screen. My initial thought was "Stop!!!" but I didn't say it. I went out and told her to wait while I took off the screen. Then I showed her how the clean the winter build up of dirt in the window sills. At this point there was not way to 'beat the clock' and move on to the next task. Out came three screens. Windows were washed inside and out. Streaks left for another day. Screens were rinsed in the hose without getting the children soaked. All hopes of doing the rest of the chores was dashed so we packed up and went on a hike on the north end of the island in pursuit of "Little Foot" whom we have been led to believe lives in the deep forest there.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I am your grandmother.

The trip over the mountain was long and sickening. Because of the Dramine and a half of some other little pill I only threw up once. And not a whole lot because I knew the reputation of our driver. Fast and aggressive over winding roads with sheer cliffs sometimes with no guard rail.I did not eat much for fear that it might not stay in my stomach.
I finally arrived at my daughter's home in Jacmel,Haiti.It was worth the trip. Eleven children crowded around the truck chanting "NaNa, NaNa!" Even little Maneita whom I had never met was clamoring to reach the door as the pick up slowly pulled to a stop.The child safety feature must have been engaged because I could not open the door. When I finally descended I was hugged and kissed and enveloped from every side. I noticed in the fever that Jerry hung to the back of the crowd and then slipped away before I could get to him.
I first posted about Jerry last year. That was when he was new in the family.
As soon as I had hugged all the little ones I walked to the back bedroom where I had seen Jerry retreat to and knocked on the door. I stuck my head in and saw Jerry sitting shyly on the edge of his bed. We engaged in simple conversation a language barrier still quite evident. But in spite of him not greeting me outside I felt like he was really glad to see me. As I would do many times that week I called my 7 yr. old granddaughter Nia in to translate. After a few minutes Jerry leaned over to Nia and whispered something in her ear. I said "What did he say?" Nia replied he wants to know if you brought any presents? I loved it. That is what all grandchildren wonder about their grandparents when they have been away for a while. He wasn't being rude or greedy..he was just navigating this new relationship the best he could from past experience. I rubbed his head and told him "peta" (later).
Later in the week when I was cleaning up from my seaglass necklace class he asked if he could have a string that I was about to toss in the trash. Later when I finished a spool of wire I loaded it with some extra string and called him up. You would think I had given him a great gift.
Hugues (the house manager) says "There are three boys who are a big problem." I will admit that they do have their challenges but I see each of these challenges as stories of redemption. I see a little boy who was wounded and broken, scared and rejected now learning to trust and to expect that just maybe someone would want to give him a present. What I see now is a little boy. A little grandson. Who likes string.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Treasusre

Walking down the familiar strip of sand I search. Missing to colors of the winter sky on this cool and damp afternoon I keep my face turned down. Looking up might mean I miss it. The treasure. I look for it. I search for it. I long for it. I even ask for it. Not content to trust that one walk along this narrow spit will yield the sea glass nuggets I search for I walk to the end and turn back to cover the same stretch that I have just walked. I do this maybe three or four times until I am satisfied that all of the treasures that are hidden in plain view are revealed and collected.The treasures for this day. So often it is in the second, third or forth time covering the same shoreline that I find it. At times I don't find it.In those times I understand that I am learning how to search.I am training my eyes to see. I am learning to understand what I am looking for.I know it's there waiting. I know that it's just not ready for me yet. I know that as I come back to this same spot on another day I will spot it and wonder how I missed it all the other times I searched in this place.
I pick up my Bible and I read the same familiar passages that I have read before. I know that there is treasure hidden here in plain sight. I know that as I read it the first time I might not find it so I must come back time and time again. I must look for it. I must search for it. I must long for it. I must ask for it.I must not be content to think that one pass over will yield all that is to be found. And when I find the nugget I will hold it and enjoy it and keep it. Sometimes it will seem that I have not found a treasure. In those times I am learning how to look. I am training my eyes to see. I am learning how to learn and how to understand. As I come back tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow in that same place I will find new things. Things I wasn't ready for today.I will wonder how I missed such a wonderful treasure and I will search again knowing that there is so much more to be found.