Does the “Best Ever” game ever end?

The husband has a “Best Grandpa Ever” hat. I happen to know that the same kids who gave him that hat also gave one just like it to their other grandpa. “Best” isn’t as exclusive as it used to be.

I wonder what would happen if every grandpa wearing a “Best Grandpa Ever” hat or T-shirt ran into one another at a large gathering. Would they have a Grandpa Showdown to determine who is the best once and for all? What would a Grandpa Showdown look like?

I imagine it would include older men giving kids horsey rides on their backs, holding kids’ hands while letting them walk up their legs and then flipping them around.

Grandpas could also toss babies in the air and catch them. In a process of elimination, grandpas would be ejected from the contest the instant the babies’ mothers yelled, “STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!”

A Best Ever Grandpa game show has possibilities featuring an entire category for Creative Greetings and Farewells. One grandpa we know stands by the family car when it leaves and runs alongside the car throwing little plastic dinosaurs in the car at the kids through the open windows.

I was at a funeral where someone mentioned the deceased always kept a pack of gum in his shirt pocket for his grandchildren. It was so sweet and touching, you could hear soft sobs. Surely, I wasn’t the only one crying.

There could also be cooking categories including a milkshake contest based on speed and another competition for baking frozen pizza the fastest.

Moms and grandmas don’t seem to receive as much of that “Best Ever” line of gifts and clothing. Although, I do have a fluffy white bathrobe monogrammed “Best Grandma Ever.”

One of our daughters saw me in it and asked who gave it to me.

“Why does it matter?” I asked.

“I’d just like to know.”

“Fine,” I said. “I got it for myself.”

“You bought yourself a robe that says ‘Best Grandma Ever’?”

“Yes,” I said. “I bought the robe online and saw you could get it monogrammed for only a few dollars more. One of the sample monograms was ‘Best Grandma Ever.’ So, I got it and I love it every time I wear it. Sometimes even a grandma needs a little pick-me-up.”

She looked bewildered, so I reminded her about the time that her grandmother, my mother, had an on-line credit with a florist. She was feeling weary one day, so she used the credit to send herself a cheery bouquet with a note on the card that said, “Get Well Soon.”

“It runs in the family,” I said.

The doorbell rang.

“It looks like a delivery truck outside,” my daughter said. “Maybe a florist?”

“It’s nothing,” I said, rushing past her. “You stay put; I’ll get the door.”


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Getting a grip on the future

We are opening back up here. Slowly. At the speed of a turtle. Make that a turtle in its shell, but it is happening.

Some want a faster open, some want continued closure. Some say it is time to get on with it, others would wait until the last coronavirus micron has been eradicated.

We have become a nation of armchair quarterbacks. We will all know what the perfect decisions would have been after some imperfect decisions have been made.

Sounds of traffic from the interstate reverberate on our patio in the early mornings. Traffic is picking up. Select businesses are coming back to life, while others are poised and ready, waiting for the green flag.

Hardware stores, along with lawn and garden stores deemed necessities, have been open all along. We passed a family-owned nursery the other day and saw their parking lot filled. Overflow cars lined the street.

Tucking annuals into spring soil, planting tomatoes and peppers, oregano and rosemary, are affirmations of life. A declaration of better days to come.

Social distancing guidelines are easing. It has been two months since we have hugged a grandchild. There are so many factors to consider. For starters, we are in a high-risk group. I was as shocked as anyone to learn this. I was reading about risk factors one day and called out to the husband, “Am I elderly?”

“You’re over 60. Yes! You’re elderly!”

When did that happen? I still feel 17 inside.

We have a nephew, young and strong, who got the virus and was sick for several weeks, flattened by extreme fatigue. The parents of classmates our kids went to school with got it. They were hospitalized, released, and recovered. Elderly parents of an acquaintance both caught it. He survived, she did not.

The pandemic is a complicated equation with many variables. A lot of people during this time have been worried if they’ll even have a future so they have been preparing just in case which is completely understandable. Friends in Denver have said how they have discussed with a Denver probate lawyer and estate planning attorney their will and what they want to happen if this sickness was to befall them. It’s upsetting but it is life and we all have to approach this with caution.

Social gatherings of 25 are allowed where we live. Still, caution abounds.

On Saturday, I dropped some things off at our youngest daughter’s house. Her little girls were outside chalking the sidewalk and running circles in the grass. Their “baby” is our youngest grand. She turned 2 last month. We had wished her happy birthday through a plate glass door.

She’s talking up a storm these days, saying words like quarantine, “pandemica,” and corona.

The toddler and momma invited me to walk with them. So we walked. Apart. She’s so young, I’ve often wondered what she remembers about us. Then she took her momma’s hand. I saw it but pretended that I didn’t.

Her momma said, “We’re not against holding hands, Grandma.”

As if on cue, that chubby, silky soft hand reached for mine. It was a mix of emotions, joy for the moment and sorrow for the many losses that have swept the world.

Of course, when our walk was over, we all resumed obsessive-compulsive hand washing.

But for a moment, I held the promise of better days to come. Slowly, but surely, they will.

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Now needing a refresher in social graces

We are going to need a refresher course in social graces before rejoining humanity when this virus thing cools down.

I get dressed every day, but usually in workout clothes. Workout clothes don’t have zippers and waistbands. Do you know how dangerous that is?

If you saw what I wore every day, you’d think I am an exercise nut. You’d be wrong. At least about the exercise part. The husband dresses like he’s going to the gym. The gym has been closed since March.

A lot of businesses used to have Friday Casual, where the dress code was relaxed on Fridays. We’ve expanded Friday Casual to seven days a week.

I see nice clothes hanging in the closet, but I can’t remember the last time I wore any of them.

We need to revisit table etiquette as well. We now eat dinner many evenings with the television on because that’s when news updates about the virus are on. I used to insist the television be off during mealtime, but I no longer have the strength to say no.

We also used to clear the table for dinner and set a nice table. Now we just crowd our plates in next to the husband’s laptop, multiple external hard drives, a large scanner and towering piles of old family photographs he is archiving, also sitting on the table.

There was also a time we never had cell phones at the table. Now our cell phones are parked where our knives and spoons used to be.

I haven’t given up my will to live, just my will to nag.

Then there is the shouting. We both talk back to the television. Most every news report on the virus is contradicted by a subsequent report.

“Make up your mind!”

“Pick a side!”

One of the kids called the other night and asked what all the yelling was in the background.

“Your father is watching the news,” I said.

At least we both shower every day, although you-know-who sometimes doesn’t shower until late afternoon. The sun hasn’t gone down yet, so he says it counts.

Then there’s my hair. It’s like a large overgrown shrub in desperate need of a shearing.

It’s been 80 days since my shearing, but who’s counting. I thought the length might pull some of the curl out of it. It did.

Then the humidity came.

Humidity gives curly, frizzy hair more density, more volume and more frizz. My hair looks like the world’s largest dust ball that was ever swept from beneath a bed.

We were looking at a cell phone picture of one of the grands when the husband said, “Look at what smooth, beautiful hair she has. It’s perfectly straight.”

When he was in the other room, I may have stirred his old family photos and gotten the top few out of chronological order. He walked in and I said, “I was just tidying up.”

“Thank you,” he said.

“You’re welcome,” I said.

We’re making progress.

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Moms have a permanent place in the heart

Last year on Mother’s Day I was taking notes on my cell phone in church as fast as my fingers could fly, hoping auto-correct would render them intelligible.

Our pastor had invited people to share about their mothers. He began, pausing occasionally to swallow a lump in his throat. He remembered passing his mother’s bedroom door seeing her kneeling beside her bed, praying “Lord, be with Tom.” He wasn’t in trouble and didn’t think he’d be in any trouble soon, but has always remember that his mother prayed for him. Regularly and faithfully.

A former state trooper said his mother took him to the opera in St. Louis on Saturdays in an outdoor pavilion. He listened to dialects he didn’t understand. He grew to love opera. Now every Saturday he listens to a radio station that plays opera in the afternoons, enjoying Italian voices and fondly remembering his mom.

A woman shared that she was only 17 months old when her mother died. Her father remarried. She values the things learned from her stepmother—how to keep house, cook and care for children. “But it wasn’t a mother’s love,” she said. “If you have a mother and you’ve known a mother’s love, don’t take it for granted.” She hopes when she gets to heaven, she’ll meet her mother there.

An entrepreneur was 9 years old when his mom let him skip school to take him out to lunch at a nice restaurant on his birthday. The car attendant said, “Why aren’t you in school?”

“My mom let me skip and is taking me out to lunch for my birthday,” he said.

The attendant said, “Your mom loves you like nobody else. Don’t you ever forget that, OK? And take care of your mom!”

“I grew up in a good home,” another man began. “I knew my father’s principles, but I knew my mother’s heart. I was loved from my mother’s heart.”

In his teen years there was something he wanted to do and his mother said, “No.”

He said, “Well, why not? There’s no harm in it.”

She said, “Son, you’re gonna ride that “No Harm Horse” to hell. Don’t tell me there’s no harm in it, tell me the good that is in it.”

A realtor shared that when he immigrated to the U.S. as a young man, his parents said, “Why do you want to go to America? There’s nothing for you there! You’ll die!”

He came anyway and landed in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He found a roommate and every weekend they drove to the roommate’s home where his mother had food prepared and waiting for them. They’d pick it up and have food for the week. The roommate’s mother became a stand-in mother with whom he has cherished a life-long bond.

It is good tell others what your mother, or someone who has helped fill that role, means to you. But if your mother is still living, it might also be good to tell her.


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