Tag Archives: family

talkin’ games

When we were young, my folks often took us for day trips on the weekends. We went to places in town; it seems like the art and natural history museums and the aquarium were popular spots because I recall them so well. We probably went to each one several times a year. I’ll try to write about those trips another day.

We also went on long drives. My mom loved to go riding out of the city to watch the countryside roll by. Later on, as an adult, I wondered about that: my dad was a traveling salesman and drove all week long, but I never heard him begrudge my mom these outings and he did all the driving. On some of the trips we we stopped and saw interesting sites or went to roadside farm stands, but other times we would just drive for a few hours and then turn around and toodle on back home.

Anyway, we played spoken games while motoring along. Sometimes just us kids, and other times my folks would join in, too. There was the standard license plate game, trying to see how many different states’ plates we could spot. My dad was good at that one; I think he might have played it solo while driving around during the week. He always knew what all the other states’ plates looked like. It was easier back then; each state only had one style of plate for most cars, though many states changed their lettering and background colors each year.

And there was the geography game: first player names a geographic location, then the next person has to come up with one that starts with the last letter of the previous place, and so on. I think we allowed any geographic name—cities, states, countries, provinces, and also rivers, oceans, mountains, and so on—but restrictions could be added. Sure loved that game. My sister and I studied up for it for a while, looking up interesting town names on world maps. We probably started doing that to learn names of places that start with A, and don’t end with A. A lot of place names that start with A end with it, or at least a lot of the ones we knew then. Plus it seems to me that a lot of other places that didn’t start with A still ended with it, so it was easy to get stuck in the A’s. I don’t recall many of the interesting names we learned any longer, except that I will always remember that there’s a town in Australia called Humpty Doo. We played other games in the car, too, or just fooled around sometimes, but the geography game was a biggie and we often returned to it.

I don’t play it any longer. Hmm, I should; I could use a prod to brush up on geography. I still like spoken games, though. I tend towards trivia games nowaday, often about movies. These are spontaneous, started because of some mention of a movie or actor or maybe someone says a line from a film and then a chain of challenges might start. Or a topic just comes up and we see how many films we can name to fit it. I’m not sure everyone would call these games; maybe they’re really just discussions. But even so, they’re fun discussions and they feel like games to me. And they sometimes come up during car trips, too. :-)

best of 2009: singing of heroes

I’m trying something new for me this month, a web community challenge: Gwen Bell’s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. Find the best the year has offered me, and review, remember, contemplate, reflect, and celebrate it. There’s a question/topic each day.

December 20 New person. … Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

My unsung heroes are the nursing, physical therapy, and cafeteria staff who helped ease my mother’s suffering this summer at Enloe Medical Center in Chico. In the surgical ward where Mom spent her time, doctors make daily rounds and visit the patients briefly, checking on how patients are recovering after surgery and such. The nursing and related staff are the ones who take care of so much of the patients’ needs and these lovely people treated Mom with caring and true concern, tremendous patience, and great gentleness along with great competence and professionalism. Many of these lovely people went to extra lengths to help. Even the student nurses I met were wonderful, each in their own way. I don’t want to write a lot about this; it’s too much to revisit Mom’s ordeal in detail. But I just want to acknowledge all the wonderful staff who tried to make Mom as comfortable as possible, to ease her pain, and also extended much kindness to my brothers, my sister, and me as we spent our time at Mom’s bedside.

Thank you all; you were true heroes in our lives this year.

best of 2009: in a word

I’m trying something new for me this month, a web community challenge: Gwen Bell’s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. Find the best the year has offered me, and review, remember, contemplate, reflect, and celebrate it. There’s a question/topic each day.
December 17 — Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. “2009 was _____.”

Whew, 2009 was a lot of things, a lot them on the downside, too. It was a very harsh year. It was a year of loss, of sadness, of longing, of deterioration. Looking back, I see that some of that isn’t completely true, that it’s just how it feels to me. There were some good things in it. One reason I’m doing this challenge is to seek out the positive and remind myself that the year has not been as wholly bleak as a quick reflection shows.

So I’ve been toying with words and phrases for 2009 all day. One good word is challenging. This year has been that. I ignored some of the challenges, put them off for the coming year.  But some could not be ignored and surprisingly I rose to some of the challenges and impressed myself that I had. I’ve often feared that I’m someone who would fall apart under these circumstances. We like to believe we are dependable but I doubted myself. When those challenges came this year, I didn’t fall apart. I endured and even contributed, pushing past some of my failings and frailties.

2009 was also a year of transitions. That’s partly a nice way of speaking of my losses: some of them have significantly changed my life. I’ve felt adrift a lot this fall. I have responsibilities and I plod on because of them, but within me there’s been turmoil and disorientation and always that doubt. I used to trust to the future and now there’s a lot of uncertainty.  But to balance that, I’ve also started to explore some areas I’ve always assumed were beyond my reach and to try to find a voice in disciplines I never considered before and to rekindle old interests I let die down long ago. And I’m trying to push myself to push myself more. I’ve grown complacent and defeated and old in recent years and it’s time to get past all that. So 2009 is a year of changing and hopefully a prelude to a stronger year ahead.

best of 2009: restaurant moment

I’m trying something new for me this month, a web community challenge: Gwen Bell’s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. Find the best the year has offered me, and review, remember, contemplate, reflect, and celebrate it. There’s a question/topic each day.

Today’s prompt is December 2 — Restaurant moment….

I didn’t eat out much this year and while there were a few pleasant and even delightful experiences, I don’t think they qualify as special moments. But there was an extended moment in one meal while I was out visiting in Chico. My brothers, sister-in-law, and I walked to dinner at a very nice Chinese restaurant one evening. It was a delicious meal and a nice relaxed hour or so during a trying family time. I hadn’t seen my younger brother and his wife for almost three years before that visit, and a year had passed since I’d seen my older brother when he was visiting in my neck of the woods. But as it always is with us, we’d just jumped right in like no time had gone by. As we ate, we yakked about all manner of things, catching up with each other, etc. The conversation stopped for me for just a split second and I was outside time looking at my loved ones. I scanned around the table and felt comforted and a sense of belonging. Then the moment passed and I joined back in. It would have been a special meal for me anyway, but that made it more so.

best of 2009: hard trips

I’m trying something new for me this month, a web community challenge: Gwen Bell’s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. Find the best the year has offered me, and review, remember, contemplate, reflect, and celebrate it. There’s a question/topic each day.

For me, today’s prompt is a harsh one: “December 1 — Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?“. I only traveled twice this year, on related trips, closely spaced, and they were not happy ones. Though I didn’t know it for certain at the time, I first went to say goodbye to my mother, and then soon after, to bury her. So rather than say these were the best trips (though they were: best and worst and only), I’ll try to focus on positives, the best parts.

I’m glad I was able to say goodbye. That’s something I missed with my dad four years ago, and it haunts me still. The look on Mom’s face when I first walked into her hospital room is a cherished memory. While much of the first visit was sad and painful, attending Mom in the hospital, we had some laughs and a bit of chat, too. During my first trip, I saw all of my siblings and also one cousin, not all at once, but I did connect with them all, and that was good, too.

For the second trip, I again saw my brothers and sister and this time, also their families. I’m grateful that we could all come together and all of us were able to be at the funeral, even a couple of my nephews who were just starting their college terms and had to make special arrangements to get away. We’re a close-knit bunch and family is important to us all. I feel embraced and warmed whenever I see them. It was not a happy time, but it was a time of caring and support of each other. I also love watching my siblings interact with their families. Each group is different, but each fits the sibling wonderfully. I’ve always been reassured and pleased that my siblings married their respective spouses and have said many times how lucky the whole extended family is that they did. And my niece and nephews just further that feeling along.

After the funeral, I stayed out west to help clear out Mom’s assisted living apartment. Among her things, I found some small papercraftings I had made for her, carefully saved, some in use, and hopefully all appreciated. She had thanked me for them all but I was never sure if she really enjoyed any of it, other than these being things a child sent, but now I feel more confident that she did. As my brothers and I sorted out the apartment, we found a few items saved from our childhood, that had us thinking about our early lives together. We had limited time so this wasn’t a huge thing but it was still another nice experience.

There’s a theme behind these “bests” from my trips: love. And I think that’s the point. The trips were painful because of love but love also helped make them bearable.