“A Place to Call Home,” Oct. 15, 2018

What does the word “home” mean to you? My mother’s parents lived on the main street of a small town in North Carolina. My dad’s parents lived on a farm in the mountains nearby. I spent a lot of time in both places and always felt at home in them.

I can describe in detail every room in those two houses, the furnishings, the food on their tables, the flowers that grew in their yards, the birds that nested in their trees and the creak of the swings on their porches. I loved both places. But mostly I loved my grandparents, and the way they made me feel: Safe and whole and at peace. [Read more…]

“A Good Day to Fly,” Oct. 8, 2018

“A Good Day to Fly,” Oct. 8, 2018

Here’s Wiley in the parade, waving with both arms!

Bribery is not, I admit, the best way to motivate a child. But sometimes, a nana’s gotta do what a nana’s gotta do.

Every year since 1939, the children of Pacific Grove, Calif., have donned paper wings and paraded in the streets to celebrate the arrival of thousands of Monarch butterflies that flutter in each fall to spend the winter.

The city is called “Butterfly Town USA” and “America’s Last Hometown.” I just call it home, the place I raised my children, buried my first husband and spent most of my adult life. [Read more…]

“Questions for a Nana,” Oct. 1, 2018

What do your children and grandchildren know about your childhood and what your life was like before they were born? If you don’t tell them, who will?

Recently I had a note from my 8-year-old grandson that lit me up brighter than the candles on my last cake. I’m hoping it will inspire you to share your history with someone you love. [Read more…]

“Comforting a Friend in Loss,” Sept. 24, 2018

(DEAR READERS: I’m taking off this week to recover from my son’s wedding. The following “often-requested” column is from 2006.)

What do you say to someone who’s just lost the love of their life? How do you offer hope when all they see is despair?

I often hear from readers who are grieving the loss of a loved one. They write to me about their loss, just as I’ve often written about mine in this column, in the years since I lost my first husband to cancer. To read their stories and share in their grief is an honor and a gift. I’ve received countless such letters over the years and have tried to answer as best I can. But some things don’t get easier with practice. [Read more…]

“A Labor of Love,” Sept. 17, 2018

Weddings are a lot of work, even for a mother of the groom. My soon-to-be daughter-in-law has done a great job of planning. Most of what’s left to do will be done by professionals, or by family or friends who want to help in any way they can.

My daughter will arrange the flowers. My youngest will assemble the arch. His wife will pick up guests at the airport. My husband will play guitar. And the little people (the groom’s niece and nephews, and the bride’s godchildren) will get all dressed up and steal the show. [Read more…]

Please note rescheduling!

Thanks so much to all of you who planned to attend the two events where I was to speak this week in Winston-Salem, N.C. Due to hurricane-relate weather, both events have been postponed. “An Evening on the Porch” (originally scheduled for Thurs., Sept. 13, 2018, 7 p.m.) in the sanctuary of Centenary Methodist Church has been rescheduled for Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018, at 7 p.m. (For tickets or info, contact www.centenary-ws.org or (336) 724-6311.) And the annual luncheon for Financial Pathways of the Piedmont (originally set for Fri., Sept. 14) will be postponed to a later date. (For info, contact Megan Thompson at (336) 896-1191; megan@financialpaths.org, or www.financialpaths.org/annual-luncheon.) I deeply regret any inconvenience and ask that you join me in sending our love and prayers outo everyone affected by this storm!

“A Resumé for a Life,” Sept. 10, 2018

How do you define who you are and what you do? Recently I told my 7-year-old grandson that I won’t get to see him next week because I’ll be away on business. Henry knows I often travel. But the “business” part pricked up his ears.

“Why, Nana? Can’t you write your column at your house?”

Henry is smart. He knows I write a newspaper column each week. I’ve read a few of them to him and he generally approves. He especially likes the ones about him and his cousins.

“I’m not writing on this trip,” I said. “I’m speaking. It’s part of my job. I go places to talk and people buy tickets to hear me.”

He looked at me the way he did the day I told him that once, while swimming in the ocean, I was circled by a shark. [Read more…]

“Stain Removal for the Soul,” Sept. 3, 2018

Have you ever taken something that seemed ruined and made it good as new? I was 7 years old, helping my grandmother do the wash on her old wringer washer. By “helping,” I mean I watched her work. She never let me near the wringer. It had mangled a few of her fingers, and she was not about to let it do that to me. [Read more…]

“Unwrapping a Package Called Aging,” Aug. 27, 2018

When I was too young to know better, I made myself a promise. I’ve made myself a lot of promises I didn’t keep and can’t recall. But I remember this one.

It was just before my 30th birthday. I was a stay-at-home mom with three small children. My 5 year old had just started kindergarten. My daughter, barely 3, was busy helping her teachers run her preschool. And my baby — for whom I’d gained 50 pounds in pregnancy and lost only 10 of it (his weight) giving birth — was a few months old. [Read more…]

“A Double Celebration,” Aug. 20, 2018

We celebrate some birthdays with a bounce house. Others we observe quietly in our heart. But every birthday of a loved one is a joyful occasion, especially when we celebrate two at once.

My oldest grandchild, who just turned 8, was born on my mother’s birthday. She died long before Randy lit up my life. The fact that they share a birthday is no surprise. I think my mother probably arranged it with God. She wanted what we all want: To be remembered. So she pulled a few strings and sent me a divine reminder.

I wish you could see him. [Read more…]