“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…]

“Crazy Things We Do for Love,” Aug. 14, 2018

Have you ever done something that was so hare-brained crazy you feared, if anyone found out, you’d never hear the end of it? Readers often tell me stories I won’t repeat without permission though they know, when they tell me, what I do for a living.

Sharing a story with a columnist is like asking a monkey to hold your banana. The monkey might like you, but bananas are hard to resist.

I asked permission to tell you this story. Luckily, the woman who told it to me said yes. I won’t tell you her real name or where she’s from. It doesn’t matter. She could be any one of us. Let’s just call her “Pat.” [Read more…]

“Back to School,” Aug. 6, 2018

Do you remember your first day of school? Did you think your life was over, or that it had only just begun?

I recall my first day of second grade. We had recently moved and I started a new school. I walked into a classroom of kids, all clucking like chickens with a fox in their henhouse, waiting for a teacher to show up and shoot the fox. I took a seat, put my head down and got to work. Then a girl came over and sat on my desk, covering my paper. [Read more…]

“Hope for a Corner of the World,” July 30, 2018

Hope sometimes comes to us in unexpected ways, often from the hands of a child. A month ago, after 12 years in Las Vegas, my husband and I moved back to California, to be closer to our growing family. We are slowly resettling in the house where my children grew up. But recently, I flew back to Vegas, to take care of a few loose ends.

When I left Monterey, it was 68 degrees; when I landed in Vegas, my rental car claimed it was 118. I believed it. I spent the week running from AC to AC. Finally, when I had tied up most of the loose ends, I headed back to the airport.  Waiting to board the flight to Monterey, I checked the news for the latest on the California wildfires. It wasn’t good. And it was getting worse. [Read more…]

“Pillow Talk,” July 23, 2018

I changed the sheets in the guest room, hung clean towels in the bathrooms and fluffed all the pillows on the sofas.

I placed fresh flowers — sprigs of blue lavender, red and yellow dahlias and big smiley faces of sunflowers — on the table in the dining room, the window sill in the kitchen and a few other places in need of brightening.

My husband and I each made trips to the market and bought enough food to feed a small, starving army: Salmon and sirloin and chips and dips and fruits and veggies to add to a load of zucchini and tomatoes from my sister-in-law’s garden. We spent an hour just trying to fit it all in the fridge. [Read more…]