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The Seagulls

December 24th, 2019

The Seagulls

I was inspired by a dream or perhaps it was a visit. Who really knows, but, Gram was there in one of her favorite blue flower patterned blouses, and full of smiles. And perhaps that was in part the purpose, of this dream visit; to bring a smile to my heart. Either way, I felt happy when I woke from this dream err visit. Now, onward to the dream, though really is was a memory from long ago. . .

Once upon a time, in a place that seems like a lifetime ago. Oh, wait, it was a lifetime ago, like over 40 years, and that is all I am saying on that subject. So there we were, on the Boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland, right in front the pier’s entrance to all the carnival rides and games. It was actually cool with a gentle breeze coming off the ocean and the sun was just starting to hug the horizon. And there was Gram just beaming with such a smile of happiness, and why not, she was at the beach with her three grandchildren. We the grand-kids were just finishing up some yummy ice cream from one of the little shops; which was straight across from Thrashers French Fries (oh, I love those fries). Gram then broke out her wonderful handkerchief (leaving out a gross part) and proceeded to wipe my brother and sister’s face of the excess ice cream that never quite made it past their lips. Yet, she was still beaming. Then she said here is a couple dollars to go play some games or whatever you want to do; and do not be out of my sight. I will be sitting right here on this bench. So off we went in our separate directions. Though in retrospect, my brother and sister were way too young to be by themselves at all, then again it was a very different time then, and we were in eye shot of Gram.

I could see my brother looking at some candy and my sister too. I walked around looking at the games and was not moved to play them. So I stood there looking around and saw little shop with these tiny little seagulls in the window. I was bad then, because I went into the little store and was out of eye shot of Gram. Though oddly, she never came after me. Guess, she knew I would call out if I had an issue. But, I did not. So I walked up to the counter and this nice lady right away asked if I was lost. I said no ma’am, I am here to buy those Seagulls you have in the window for my Gram and pointed outside to the bench across the way. So I handed her my money and she gave me a quarter and dime back for change. She then wrapped them up in tissue paper and placed them gently in a little brown paper bag. I said thank you ma’am and walked out straight to Gram still sitting on her bench.

As I walked over, I saw my brother and sister were sitting there beside Gram with pouty faces. They had spent all their money and apparently wanted more and Gram said no, not right now. And when Gram said no, she meant no and when she said yes, she meant yes. There was never really many gray areas with her. Which I always admired about her. So I guess that is where I get it that from; always doing my best to keep my word. But, I digress. So I walked over to Gram and handed her my little brown paper bag. And said, these are for you Gram, hope you like them.

She opened the bag very gently and reached in, pulling out a ball of tissue paper. As she slowly unwrapped it, you could see her eyes starting to get a bit watery. Then she saw the seagull. Then the tears streamed. She didn’t bother opening the others, she just grabbed me and gave me a Gram hug. You know the type where they squeeze the air out of your lungs. All the while, still beaming and tears running down her cheeks. I asked her, did I do something wrong. I did not mean to make you cry Gram. She played it off as something in her eye and oddly I accepted it at the time. She then continued to open the other two. She was still having that something in her eye going on. Then said thank you very much dear, and very thoughtful. She just sat there for a few minutes. I was still wondering if I did something wrong and she was not going to tell me. So I said Gram, here is your change. She looked at me and said, no that is your money dear, save it or spend it. Then we went back to the cottage; which was just down from the pier at that time. Not sure if Ocean Manor is still there. But, it was really cool being so close to the pier and feeling like we lived there.

There is an ugly part to this story, which is full of jealously, rage, alcoholism and drugs. But, this experience is not about that. So I will be skipping the ugliness.

We are now back home in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, well a couple miles south. Gram had dropped us off at the old farmhouse on Lauxmont Farms (not sure they still call it by that name). After she left, we did not see Gram for a couple weeks. Probably due to the all the ugliness.

Though, moving on a few weeks later. I was at Gram’s home doing a few outside chores. Mostly, picking up the never ending sticks and raking leaves from the 100 plus year old maple trees (it took four peoples arms stretched out to reach around these trees). I was almost done and Gram said time to eat. I literally just dropped my rake and ran. Oh, yum, Gram’s roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, Brussels and Yorkshire pudding; followed by her Raspberry Trifle (I am getting so hungry right now). Anyway, I sat there eating the yummy supper and noticed just above the sink on a little ledge of knickknacks; sat the Seagulls. I was so happy to see them there. I then mentioned to her, that I guess she liked them. She said to me, that she will cherish them always. And she did, forever and a day. Because, over the years she was flooded several times. Though every time there was a flood, it was the first thing she went looking for when she could get back into her home. They might not be as shiny and new as they once were. But, even with the stains from multiple floods, they still meant a lot to her.

So thank you Gram for the visit in my dream. I will forever cherish the seagulls and keep them in a place of remind me of that most happy moment we shared when I was just a wee lad.

Love You Gram.

Your Grandson Neall (raven)

Originally Published on Junction 116 (Stories from the Heart) Blog: September 5th, 2018.

Introduction of Bubba the Box Turtle

December 12th, 2019

Introduction of Bubba the Box Turtle

Bubba is a female box turtle from Dallastown, Pennsylvania. She is 25 years young with a birthday coming this August of 2018.

Bubba's beginnings were not very pleasant to say the least (she wasn't even 6 month old and about the size of a U.S Silver Dollar). She was rescued from some children (we will call them unruly; though we would prefer a more non-pc word or phase). They were torturing her; she had holes in her shell and burns. We were unsure if the little one would survive. But, we undertook the endeavor of her rehab. It took quite awhile to get her to eat or drink (though we did force some drops of water in her mouth to keep her hydrated in the beginning). We tried so many things to get her to eat; all the typical foods a box turtle is supposed to eat. What a stubborn turtle. She would not eat any leafy greens and her fruits and melons had to be cut up into pea sized pieces; or she would not eat. But, one day we found her favorite food by accident. She actually got quite excited when I walked in with some McD's Double Cheeseburgers. So we thought why not. So we gave her half of one. She went nuts tearing at it. Now, whether they are good for her or not, she did not get sick or nothing and it made her happy. So from time to time she gets her favourite treat. But, moving on, the days turned into weeks and months, and it became apparent that due to the holes in her shell and a lack of a filler that would grow with her shell, she would not be able to be returned to the wild. So she settled in and became part of the family. I should mention that I (Neall) was there 25 years ago. But, to continue, we felt she needed a rough and tough name considering what she went through. So she was named Bubba.

Bubba has since traveled across country (in a black Mustang) from the East Coast to West Coast of America. She lived in Portland Oregon for many years, then returned to Pennsylvania a couple years ago. But, her caretaker needed to move back to Oregon for family matters and could no longer care for Bubba. So Bubba has come to live with Ron and I. We are excited to have Bubba staying with us. We placed her in our garden room that is full of plants and she is near a window so she gets lots of sunshine. We do hope she feels at home. if not she will let us know. Since she likes to bang on the glass when she wants something. Oh, one more little tidbit of info about Bubba, she can live 80 to a 100 years. Wow right...

Well, that ends Bubba's introduction. As a side, we will post some fun pictures from time to time. Until then...

Originally Published on Junction 116 (Stories from the Heart): May 5, 2018

A Cherished Memory

December 12th, 2019

A Cherished Memory

There are some memories that stand out more than others. And then there are those precious ones that make such an impact that they touch your heart so deeply; that it echoes in crystal clarity for years after.

It was early in December of 2014; noontime. A normal day as any other, except for the usual, checking with the nurses and doctors about Gram and her care. But, then it was mail time. So I walked down to the mailbox and pulled out a ton of mail. Ugh… As I was walking back, I was rifling through the pile and sorting junk versus real mail. And then I saw a card from Gram. I had to open it right away. Because it was rare to get a card in the mail from her, especially since i saw her almost everyday. So I got my finger under the flap of the envelope and ripped away. As I pulled the card out, I noticed a holiday tree on the front. I was in a bit of shock at this point. As I have never received a holiday card from Gram; my entire life. Opening it though, my eyes started to well up. It said “Hello My Dearest Neall, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and thank you for all that you do for me. Love Nan”. The welling of the eyes went to streams at this point.

To expand upon the never having received. Gram was a Jehovah Witness. Though, while she didn’t start out that way. She was converted due to a death in the family; her mother (Daisy Walton-Hemming-Buckland ~ born 1883 gave birth to gram at age 44 in 1927), her death affected Gram greatly. But, then one day a knock knock at the door, it was the Jehovah Witnesses, they came in to give her comfort. And the promise of a seeing her mum in the new kingdom made something click. And she converted.

So with her converting, I had never experienced a December holiday or card; nothing growing up. While there was some loose experiences here and there with other family. It was never a whole experience and often less than; but, I will save that story for another time.

Now jumping to December 25 of 2014. I brought Gram to our home for the holiday dinner and family get together with my in-laws. She had a most wonderful time, especially eating all those yummy desserts that she kept saying she had to room for, but, kept getting more. She laughed a lot and shared tales of her adventures. But, alas it was time to return her to the assisted living facility. And on the whole drive back, she was just chatting away about how lucky I was to have such incredible friends. I agreed with her. We arrived at the facility and walked her to her room to get her settled. Not to mention, making sure the nurses knew that the huge container on her dresser was her desserts. Because, Gram would share too much and not have any for herself. I then kissed and hugged and returned home. Happy for once.

As a side, I am not a fan of the “in-laws” phase, as these folks are family; not just something I married into. They are full of love and acceptance in their hearts and that comes out in everything they do. Gram also adored them and would often ask when was the next time we would all be meeting up again.

To round up this, I was blessed in the middle of the chaos of her care with a memory that will be with me to the end of days. That special moment of having a Merry Holiday with Gram; and my one very special holiday card.

Thank You & Miss You Gram (Nan)

Your Loving Grandson

Originally Published on Junction 116 (Stories from the Heart): December 23, 2017

Good Memories in a Daisy

December 12th, 2019

Good Memories in a Daisy

When caring for an older adult there are challenges to the mind, body and one's spirit. And the intensity of emotion on these is multiplied exponentially when it is family.

Which brings me to a story about Daisies. More specifically, Montauk Daisies and how they brighten the dark days of fall.

Well, it started long before I was born, my Nan (grandmother) was visiting family in Montauk, New York in the early 1960s. But, before she left to return home to Central Pennsylvania; she was given her first little sprig of a Montauk Daisy by my aunt. My grandmother told me how happy she was that day. As daisies were her most favorite flower. But, that little plant was to go through a number of dreadful experiences over the course of its life. There were several floods it survived, to name a few, there was Hurricane Agnes where is was almost wasted away and then the ice dam breaking on the Susquehanna River, which rose at a foot a minute; and stayed flooded for days; it had also overturned several heating oil tanks spilling their contents everywhere. Oh how the poor daisy looked after that exposure. My Nan had thought it was not going to survive being bathed in heating oil. But, again it survived and surprised her in blooming the following fall. So the years passed and was old enough to start doing yard work (oh, what fun). Though it was then I started to learn how to take care of her daisies. I would have to trim them after they were done blooming and plant all the clippings. Which to this day I am quite surprised how easy they are to grow. All you have to do it pretty much take a clipping and shove it in the ground and poof, you have another bush.

Time Warping to the 2013, she reached the point where she could no longer live on her own (not a pleasant time for a stubborn British grandmother). So she said it time for me to take her Daisies to my home. So the great move of the mother root began. Egads, that root and its main branch was bigger than my forearm and the hole was huge. But, it settled right in and has since birthed many babies. The best part, up an until Nan passed this world, she was able to see them in bloom. But, what provides the most light and an expression of love from these daisies? It is that they had started blooming the week she passed, so now whenever they bloom, I remember most vividly all those wonderful times in the garden and our wonderful lunches, not to mention her stories about her travels. Admittedly, there is still a thread of sadness that wells up in my heart during this time of the year, but that fades when I take a moment to look at her favorite flowers all in bloom.

Thank You Nan for Montauk Daisies, they do brighten a sad heart.

Your Ever Loving Grandson

Originally Published on Junction 116 (Stories from the Heart): Sept 30, 2017