My Pattern Pages Are Here!

My Pattern Pages Are Here!
copyright 2008 Laura Blanton

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Christmases Past

Another story published in Senior Living


As we approach this holiday season, I find myself with mixed emotions about the quickly encroaching festivities. Having lost my mother this past March 9th, I don’t quite know what to expect. In the spirit of Dickens, I’m thinking of past, present and future. Christmas present is certain to be difficult. Christmases future hold promise and I can look forward to happy times of worship and celebration – hopefully with grandchildren one day. Christmases past might bring sorrow for my present sense of loss, but they also hold the memories and joy Mother brought to all of us. I’m going to do the best I can this year, not in the least for my husband, children and father who deserve to have me living in the present and not constantly grieving for the past. However, I know it will be Christmases past that will give me the strength to hold on. I see no harm in borrowing happy memories to help us work through situations that are less than desirable.

One of my earliest Christmas memories is when we lived in a very small two bedroom house we rented in East Lake. In addition to the two bedrooms, there was one bath, a living room, dining room and kitchen. As well as I remember, the back porch had been closed in and the washing machine was in there as well as my brother’s huge toy box. The water heater was exposed and sat in the corner of the kitchen. The only heat we had was a large gas space heater in the dining room. After my second brother was born, the dining room became a bedroom. Sometimes it was my bedroom and sometimes it was Mother and Daddy’s. It depended on what kind of mood Mother was in. Daddy would come home from work and find the house rearranged. He always said he never knew in which room he would be sleeping.

This particular Christmas Eve, Mother and Daddy’s best friends were spending the evening with us. I can remember the smell the tree gave off with the big lights warming the branches and see all of our ornaments sparkling through the clumps of tinsel we had thrown onto the tree instead of placing individual strands as Mother had requested. All my brother and I could think was “when will they ever go home so Santa can come?” Normally we enjoyed their visits very much. Our families were very close and they had a daughter and son close to our ages. This night, we just wanted them to leave so Christmas could get there.

At long last, or so it seemed, our friends went home and my parents put us to bed in their bedroom. That was probably the best way to corral us so Santa could work his magic. I don’t know if we slept any that night, but I do know we woke up very early. We kept making little noises trying to wake Mother and Daddy up. We coughed, giggled, etc. to no avail. Finally, they told us to be quiet until it was time to get up. That meant when they were ready with the camera and my grandparents and aunts had time to walk a half block from their house to ours. I can remember all these little details, but couldn’t tell you one present we received. I can see the magic everywhere, smell and taste the wonderful food, and feel the love all around me. I could pull out pictures and find an exact record of what Santa brought, but that wasn’t the important thing. Well, at that time we thought it was, but looking back it wasn’t the point at all.

When we got through with Santa, we opened presents from each other and then we had breakfast. Mother made the best biscuits in the world and we had eggs, bacon, grits with cheese, etc. After breakfast we played for a while then got dressed to move the party up to my grandparent’s house. We had a huge lunch, of course, and lots of desserts. I don’t know how the “women folk” managed it. There were so many different cakes and pies. Everyone had a different favorite and Mother and Grandmother made them all. Granddaddy had to have a Lemon Cheese Cake, Mother loved Macaroon Pie, Daddy’s favorite was fudge made from the recipe on the Marshmallow Cream label. It was so wonderful. All that love, presents and food wrapped into one happy day.

Later in the afternoon, they tore us away from our presents to go to the home of my other grandparents. My dad’s sister had four or five children by then and it was a house full. We had more presents and then another feast. I always feel sorry for the grandparents who get the second shift meal because everyone is still too full to really enjoy it.

By the time we got back home, it was time for bed. I remember objecting, but not too strongly. Mother would tell us tomorrow was another day and we would have all the time in the world to play with our toys and games: if only that were true. Time flew by so quickly. One Christmas faded into the next, moving measurably faster each year. We moved from that rental house to one we bought next door to my grandparents. Then, when I59 came through East Lake, we built our present home. It would take me a book to share all the wonderful memories with you. This is where I remember most of my youngest brother’s Christmases as well as Mother and Daddy’s first two grandchildren. It seems Christmas has always held magic for me since my youngest brother was nine years my junior and Santa always included the grown children when he stopped. There were also lots of cousins from Georgia here for the holidays. We moved from this generation to grandchildren almost seamlessly.

In 1993 when my husband and I married, I became a mom for the first time. I have two precious step-daughters that have filled a very vacant place in my heart. The oldest is married now and will one day fill our house with the excited sounds of children at Christmas. It has been much too long since this house has held that kind of joy. I’m trying to move from daughter to matriarch and plan the festivities for the first time. It’s been a long time since Mother was able to plan, decorate and cook, but she was always in charge anyway. We had to have our holidays at the nursing home. Now it is up to me to make it happen and hold it together. This will be a bitter sweet Christmas. There is no way around that. My prayer is that these wonderful memories will help me to prepare for my children and friends and keep the traditions alive. Mother always led by example and in this way, she still does. She was the best and I know she will live in our celebrations as long as I do.


November 3, 2004
Brand new Baby Isaac with Grandma
and.... with Granddaddy! Posted by Picasa

I'm a Grandmother!

Finally trying to get caught up on my bragging! Here is a story published in Senior Living Newspaper in Birmingham, Alabama.


On February the 26th of 2006 I experienced the miracle of childbirth for the first time - at my age. Hard to believe I made it this far without witnessing such a marvelous gift from God. Looking back over my life, I realize that I have been blessed with many babies and children through the generosity of my mother, aunts, brothers and cousins. They have all been very kind to share their little miracles with me. I also had lots of friends with babies and I did a lot of babysitting in my younger years. I used to pour the sorrows of a barren woman out to my mother. She was sympathetic to my pain and also her pain of missing grandchildren, but would not indulge my misery. When I expressed concerns about growing old with no daughters to care for me, she wisely pointed out that giving birth did not guarantee a caring presence in old age. She was right, of course.

I have so many beautiful memories of numerous babies and children starting at an early age. I was always the designated little mother. I absolutely took over my baby brother from my mother. I look back now and see that I probably did both of them an injustice, but he was so adorable and my mother instinct, even at the age of nine, was tremendously strong. He assures me he “suffered not”, but I wonder. I guess my aunts were lucky they lived in Georgia and I only got to “mother” their children during visits.

Then my nephew and niece were born. Oh, how I loved them. I got to drive my nephew and his mother home from the hospital and give him his first bath after coming home. He absolutely light up my days and it is a good thing, as the nights got very long. He was quite ill at three weeks old and had to have surgery. We took turns sleeping propped up on pillows on the couch with him on our chest so he could breathe and we could monitor him. Come to think of it, he’s still a lot of trouble…

When my niece was born, they told us no way would she have the same problem as her older brother. It was written that only first born males had this condition. Of course, they were wrong. If there is even a 1% chance for something to go wrong, in my family, it will. We went through the same thing with her, except at six weeks of age.

Early in my marriage I did not work out of the home. I kept several children during the day, including a number of infants over the years. One day my brother was working close to our apartment and came by to have lunch with me. I think I was keeping six children of assorted ages at that time. He sat at the table for a few minutes just shaking his head. When I asked what was wrong he said, “I can’t see anything but peanut butter and jelly, Kool-Aid and elbows. How do you stand it?”

I finally grew resigned to having no children of my own and moved past it. There were, and still are occasionally, periods of regret and sorrow. However, for the most part, it was okay. Years later, after a failed marriage and a period of being single, I met the most wonderful man with two beautiful little girls. Almost instantly we became a family. Informally at first, and then after 1 ½ years of dating and engagement, the four of us got married. Yes, the four of us. They were very much included. I even bought a little cross necklace for each of them that I gave them at the end of the ceremony. Having been childless for so many years, my prayers had been answered. I won’t pretend it was always roses. I had been told it would take six years for things to be right with a blended family. I would have none of that. I was determined there would be no problems, and for the most part, there weren’t. Bill always assured me that the few small things I went through with them were normal mother/daughter things and had nothing to do with being a step-mom. Looking back, I can see that he was right.

This brings us back to the first of the story. Back in July of 2005, right after the loss of my dad, I went out on the carport one morning and there was a black shoulder bag sitting on the floor. Not having sense enough to suspect something sinister, I picked it up and brought it inside. When I unzipped the top compartment, what should appear but an assortment of diapers, baby bottles, pacifiers, etc. and a special card to “grandparents.” I’m sure Bill thought there was a snake or spider inside after I squealed and started crying. I was too surprised and overjoyed to convey the contents. He just had to look for himself. Our daughter and son-in-law had traveled to the home of each grandparent, great-grandparent, brother, sister, and close friend the night before so we would be surprised the next morning. She had always said that if and when they were expecting, she would have a very special way of letting us know. I didn’t think she could pull anything over on me, but I was wrong.

We went through the usual ultrasounds, bored all of our friends with pictures of “the baby”, etc. We soon found out it was a boy and he was to arrive March 24, 2006. We knew we were to have a baby, and we were happy, but it just didn’t seem real. All through the pregnancy, we would talk about how unreal it seemed. We just couldn’t grasp the concept of how much our lives would change.

Our daughter told me she wanted me to be with her when the baby was born. I was overjoyed. Still, I wasn’t fully prepared for the extent of my involvement, especially when he came almost a month early. She called us on a Saturday night at about 8:00 pm and told us not to be alarmed but she was in the hospital for observation. The next morning, we were instructed to “get to the hospital.” Our little boy was very impatient to see everyone and wasted no time. When the nurse asked how many of us were going to stay in the birthing suite, mom said, “all of them.” Her mother, sister, dad and I were to be in there with her and her husband. The nurse was a little shocked and said the doctor would have to okay that. They usually only allowed one in addition to the father. I will forever be indebted to our daughter, her husband and the wonderful doctor who delivered our grandson. The doctor, who I later learned had never seen our daughter, was wonderful. He told us if we promised to be good, stay put and be quiet, we could stay. We huddled in a corner as they prepared for the delivery and I’m not sure I took a single breath until it was over. I have never been so overwhelmed with emotion and wonder in my life. I rode to the hospital with our youngest daughter and her mother and she made me promise she wouldn’t be the only one crying. That was one promise I made unnecessarily. I couldn’t have kept from crying had I tried. When that tiny little bundle was delivered, I further held my breath until he moved and cried and then I was completely washed with love and awe. It was like the universe had opened up and given us a little glimpse into Heaven. My eyes seemed open for the first time.

I had thought I would live out my life pondering the mysteries of childbirth. Thanks to my daughter, I have experienced the greatest miracle on earth. I am sure there is no way I will ever fully understand what it is to be a real mother or grandmother, but I’ve come as close as I’ll ever get. Isaac Paul Deason, all 5 lbs. and 12 oz. of him, has completely stolen my heart. It is hard to let a day pass without seeing him. I had always said parents turned into complete fools when they became grandparents. Now, I understand why. For all of you who went before me, please accept my sincere apology and chalk it up to the ignorance of one who had never been there. Now I am one of you in the worst way. Incidentally, would you like to see some pictures? I just happen to have a few in my purse.

March 10, 2006
My first grandchild, Isaac at 5 months!
Isaac at 6 months!
Isaac at 6 months! Grandma loves her baby! Posted by Picasa