The One For Vi

I know four ladies in the same family, each a generation apart from the next, something like dominoes or nesting dolls, each individual contributing to the larger fun of the game. They are each a hoot.

But would not necessarily be pleased that I told you so.

Particularly Vi, the oldest of the bunch. If you take Vi out to breakfast she will pay. She will ask the waitress to make her coffee extra hot and send it back if it’s not. She takes her coffee the way she takes her life in general: bold enough to make you sit up straight and pay attention. None of this sugar and milk nonsense.

These four generations of ladies share a common denominator or two, and the most entertaining one is their general stubbornness, or as I prefer to call it, “the determination to go forth and conquer”.

I have a separate relationship with each of them and whether I tell a story on the one year old or the 84 year old, the other generations smile and nod and insist “isn’t that just like her mama!”.

Yes. Yes, it is.

In 2014, Ronda, Vi’s daughter, asked me to write something up and speak at Vi’s funeral services. Not that Vi was feeling poorly, mind you. But Ronda wanted to be prepared. In 2015, Vi asked me if I would write up a little something for her funeral. Not that anything was amiss. But you never know.

I laughed and offered a compromise. “Vi,” I said, “Instead of waiting till later, how about I write about you now? That way, you can make sure it’s accurate.”

This pleased her, of course. Not that my writing is objectionable.

Vi was in hospital frequently over the last few years because her blood pressure refused to cooperate and it sent her into fainting spells. I asked her to make me a blog about her experience there. She was delighted at the prospect and was as helpful as possible. She would tell me all of the horrible things the doctors did to her each day and finish with, “You know you can’t write that, right? Don’t you dare put that in your blog.”

“But Vi!” I insisted, “I can make you famous! I can make you a rock star!”

She laughed but she wasn’t buying it. She retained full veto power and wielded it from her perch on the pillows until there wasn’t a hospital story left.

I’m still not sure what, exactly, a smart lady like Vi saw in a silly thing like me, but I suppose if she was willing to have me in her hospital room while total strangers worked her over with instruments of torture, she considered me “in”. With a wink and a nod one day, she informed me that calling for an ambulance brought dashing young men right into her house to tend her with first class service. “So much nicer than driving yourself,” she insisted, “that’s the way to go.”

I might try fainting myself sometime, to see how that works.

Vi’s family was everything. We passed the time talking about them. She took great delight in the fact that I was a nanny for her great-granddaughter and listened forever to my stories about “that little toot”, as she called her.

I finally wrote her blog, “Elderflowers and Rosebuds”, to celebrate the connection between generations and the love and hope that is passed down from grandparents to toddlers. It was a subject we were both passionate about. Please read it.

Vi passed away last week at 93 years young. The eldest of these four precious women went on her own terms, in her own bed at home, and will be missed dearly. There has been a lot of loss lately, in case you haven’t been watching out your window. And no one is having funerals.

We all need somewhere to put our grief. Here is my little piece of comfort. Feel free to add yours below.

Leaving Home for College

Good morning everyone and welcome to our next installment in the January series on “Moving”. Today we are going straight to the experts for advice about the transition when Little Johnny moves away to college.

As far as I can tell, I have successfully sent three children to college while managing to keep them living at home. The fourth kid is up for grabs but unless the right college grabs him, I will have the honor of four college graduates and zero dorm experiences.

On the other hand, I also have a kid with nothing but dorm experiences and zero college degrees.

There are pros and cons.

But I am obviously not an expert.

I watched a coworker send her son to another state for college and he was homesick and she was optimistic and the week before winter finals that boy got the flu. His entire building got the flu. He called her from the floor of his room and she did what every sensible mom would do: she overnighted him a case of Gatorade, and begged him to pass his finals.

That Christmas break, he came home and refused to leave.

Meanwhile, I know a few Little Johnnys who have managed to go back after Christmas break, and I have some nuggets of wisdom from the moms who survived it:

  1. Believe they are adults. You raised them right and it’s all in there. When needed, your voice is in their head even if it’s screaming “Dumb*ss!” Which will happen many, many times in the first year.
  2. The campus life schedule (especially in a dorm) is not the same as the class schedule. It’s erratic and unscheduled. This means calling home is not a priority! We made a deal to not bother them if they simply called every Sunday to check in. And they did.
  3. College and living away is tough and there are calls home that make you want to rush in and take care of it . Having to give phone advice and help them through life from a distance is HARD and a whole new perspective. This is a reminder to empower and encourage. Follow up with a full glass of wine (coping measure).
  4. Join the parent group on Facebook. Most don’t allow students in so you get to share the feels and get insider info too! I missed this with my first student, but found it with my second. Ours has moderators that have links to info, Senior parents armed with experience in the trenches, invited guests like the Chief of Campus Police, support from parents who live locally and even an Uber driver file. (This is) your support while the student insists they “got this” lol!
  5. Learn what Venmo is and join – this is how roommates share expenses, lunch dates share the check and Mom sends money for a much needed frappacino after a hard test.
  6. I also completely support getting in on the college sports team fun!
  7. It’s that hard realization that they live somewhere else, and have a life outside of you and the small family you had together with all of your kids when they were little. That day in and day out you don’t know what they’re doing, how they’re doing, and that they’re doing it apart from you.
  8. I guess you wonder will they come back and will it ever be the same? But it will never be the same even when they do come home because they are adults now. They leave with their childhood and return with a form of adulthood. I guess that’s how it’s meant to be: it’s the end of an era.
  9. Wow, I didn’t expect the intensity of the sorrow of saying goodbye to him as we send him back across the country today. It almost seems worse than the first time we did this last fall. I’m so thankful that he’s happy and thriving in his college environment, I can’t imagine how hard this would be if he weren’t.
  10. I also thought that it would be easier to say goodbye to them once they left for the first time, but every time they come home for winter break or spring break or summer break it’s equally hard to say goodbye as they go back to school. I feet sad every time. 
  11. I think of how it must feel to be my parents standing on that step, watching their heart go away again and again. I can physically feel the pain of time passing in my body, and it makes me realize how valuable beyond riches it has been to spend these special days together in our cherished home.
  12. And lest these feels and formulas be a wee too much, here is the only idea I had prepared for this moment. A mom has to do what a mom has to do.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecc 3
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