“Remembering the Boy, Who’s Now a Man,” column for July 28, 2015

His card will be late. I forgot to mail it. I forget lots of stuff. But I will always remember the boy. So I called him.

“Happy birthday!” I said. “I’m so glad you were born!”

He laughed at my “so glad you were born” tradition. I started it when my kids were little. Now they say it to me. [Read more…]

“Taking a Chance on Love … and Life,” column for July 21, 2015

Once, I went to a zoo to see the penguins. But my favorite thing of all turned out to be the bats.

This is a love story. I’ve told parts of it before. But stories are like love itself: They change and grow and deepen with time.

When I met him, I liked the blue of his eyes and the starch in his buttoned-down collar. But that was about it. He’d just been hired as an editor _ my editor _ at the paper where I worked. I hoped he’d be a good one. I never dreamed he would one day be my husband. [Read more…]

“Silencing the Guilt Monster”

Guilt. If it had a face, it would look a lot like the ax-waving monster that chased me through my nightmares as a child.

How dare you, it says, do the things you do or have the things you have, when others never get a chance to enjoy them?

It’s a hard question to answer, especially if you’re running from an ax. Often, I don’t try. I just keep running and feeling bad. But sometimes, on my better days, I arch my back and come up with an answer that stops the guilt monster in its tracks. [Read more…]

“The Gift of Being Human,” June 30, 2015

We all have a gift. We don’t go around bragging about it, unless it’s a gift for making people hate us. But we all do something a little better than most anyone else we know.

What about you? What’s your gift? What’s the thing you do that makes people smile and shake their heads in wonder? [Read more…]

“When Angels Dance,” column for June 23, 2015

What do you know about the day you were born? What’s the first sentence of the first chapter of the story of your life? Most of what I know about my birth (place, date, names, etc.) appears on my birth certificate.

Not the snowstorm. My dad told me about that. When he left the hospital after I was born, he said, he found his car buried in snow. It took hours to dig it out. He blamed me. When the angels heard I was born, he said, they were so happy they danced all the snow out of the clouds. [Read more…]

“Leaving It All on the Stage,” column for June 16, 2015

She came dancing out on stage looking like a woman who knows exactly who she is, in silver T-strap pumps and a neon-pink dress trimmed with a whole lot of sparkle and fringe that moved when she moved in all the right places.

I thought to myself, “I want that dress.” I might not wear it to church. But I’d definitely wear it on Saturday nights to stay home and watch TV. [Read more…]

“A Summer to Daydream,” column for June 9, 2015

Coming back from the post office, I drove past a school. The parking lot sat empty, the place looked abandoned, like a dry well waiting for the rain.

Summer vacation.

The thought made me smile. [Read more…]

“A Few Things our Children (and Grandchildren) Need to Know,” column for June 2, 2015

The mama quail leads her brood across my yard like a feathered drill team, a wee bit out of step. She clucks and fusses, crowing commands. Eight fuzzy, thumb-sized chicks dotter behind her on toothpick legs, running in circles like cartoon penguins trying their best to keep up.

One stops to peck the petals off the lantana. Suddenly, he realizes he’s been left behind and goes sprinting after her as if the grass is on fire and his life depends on following her lead.

Which, of course, it does. She’s his mother. There are things she needs to teach him, things he needs to know to survive. [Read more…]

“The Everlasting, Everpresent Transportability of Love,” May 26, 2015

The photo took my breath away: A little boy with a big grin, waving at the camera (hello or goodbye?) all dressed up in his first cap and gown. Randy, my oldest grandchild, graduated from preschool last week. I couldn’t be in California for the ceremony, so his mom sent me a photo.

I wish you could’ve seen him.

I wish I could’ve seen him, too.

When you get a chance to share a child’s rite of passage (even if it’s only one of many in his life) you shouldn’t pass it up. There will be other graduations in his future, but I was sorry to have to miss this one. [Read more…]

“I Am Nana, Hear Me Sneeze,” column for May 19, 2015

So I have a cold. It’s not like I didn’t ask for it.

After a few days in California with my kids and grandkids, I brought the cold home like a bad souvenir. The same thing happened four months ago, when Eleanor Rose was born. On that visit, I stayed for a month to play with Eleanor and her brothers, Randy, who is 4, and Wiley, who is 2, and their cousin, Henry, who is 3.

I wish you could’ve seen us. We had the kind of fun that is usually limited to frat houses and packs of wild dogs. [Read more…]