Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gabriella's Birthday

My granddaughter Gabriella is nineteen today.  

On Thanksgiving morning 1998 we woke to learn that our daughter-in-law was in labor.  We dressed and hurried to the hospital.  In the weeks before, friends had asked if I planned to watch the delivery.  I said, "No way."  But on that Thanksgiving day I found myself walking into the delivery room.  I sat on the floor, thinking if I passed out, I wouldn't have far to fall.  

Several hours passed and the labor pains grew steadily closer together, then the pushing began...and with a whoosh, out came a dark-haired baby girl.  Gabriella, my first (and only) grandchild.  I'm so glad I got to see her birth.  It was a miracle to watch a new life emerge and take her first breath.

Ralph and I left and had a Thanksgiving lunch at Luby's.  It was gross.  I've never eaten there again.  I know some people love Luby's but I am definitely not a fan.

We returned to the hospital, and like a true early childhood speech pathologist I asked what her Apgar score was.  It was nine.  

Michael and his wife and Gabriella (Michael said she would never be called Gabby, but he was wrong) came back to our house where they lived for the first year of Gabriella's life while they were building their house.  I got to see her crawl for the first time, hear her first word--cat--not a surprise in our cat-loving household.  I watched her play with toys, interact with our family and grow.  One of her favorite things to do at our house was look at herself in the three-way mirror in the dressing room.

When they moved to their new home, I still shared many memories, some with her family, some with just me and Gabby.  I saw her first Halloween, her first steps, her delight at the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science.  Some years later we adopted a butterfly cocoon and saw the butterfly emerge.  We went to the Children's Museum where Gabby had her face painted.  I remember dance recitals and birthday parties, making green eggs and ham with her (without the ham), watching together as her grandfather carved a jack o' lantern, going to the Nutcracker and the youth symphony, going for afternoon tea, taking her for her first pedicure, visiting the Museum of Natural Science to view and sniff Lois, the smelly flower, taking turns reading Junie B. Jones aloud, hearing about books she read in school, watching her become a teenager and last spring attending her high school graduation.  

I can hardly believe the years have passed and she's now a young lady of nineteen and a college freshman.  She misses her cat, who is living with me this year while she's in a dorm, but she's bought a pet--a fish she named Flounder.  The cat is hoping to meet (and maybe eat) Flounder during winter break.

On this last birthday of her teens I wish her joy.  She's brought me joy, too.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Books of October

I only read two books in October.  My excuse:  they were both very long.

Cora Seaborne is a recent widow who is delighted to be free of her abusive husband.  She is persuaded by friends to visit a village by the sea (This story takes place in England.)  There she finds a small town frightened by the idea that a huge sea serpent is coming to terrorize them.  We meet a huge cast of characters:  Frankie, Cora's son, who probably has Asperger's;
Martha, his nanny and Cora's companion; a doctor who is referred to as the Imp; the man he saves, the village pastor and his dying wife and their three children, and many other characters.  All of them are intertwined in some way and all have some sort of connection to the serpent.  Is there really a serpent?  You won't find out until the last pages.  Meanwhile, the book focuses on other themes:  housing for poverty-stricken Londoners, medical advances, fossils and other things.  I gave it a B.

I found this book fascinating.  I've worked with autistic children and I'm aware of some of the history covered in this book, but I loved the readable style, the clarity of the explanations, and although it's over 500 pages, I finished it in about 10 days.  It covers the era of institutionalizing children who were "different" and "difficult," the early identification of  children with autism, the struggles of parents to raise their children and to find appropriate education for them, the idea prevalent in the mid-20th century that autism was caused by "refrigerator mothers" who rejected their children, the activism by parent organizations, the different methods of working with autistic children, the changing of diagnostic criteria, the vaccine scare, the views of autistic adults, and more.  This is great reading for a lay person or a professional.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Houston Strong...and Joyful

Last year the Chicago Cubs broke a decades-old curse and won the World Series.  This year the Houston Astros won.  It couldn't have come at a better time.

Houston is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey, the worst flood in our history, that happened just over two months ago.  People are traumatized from losing homes, losing possessions, finding shelter, dealing with FEMA, worrying about the future.  The Astros brought a ray of sunshine into our rain-soaked lives.
They brought us together, gave us something everyone could talk about.  Orange and blue t-shirts and Astros caps were the fashion of the week.

When they beat the Red Sox, then the Yankees, then finished off the Dodgers in the seventh game of the World Series, it seemed like Destiny.  The 'Stros were comfortably ahead in that game, 5-0, but the tension in our Event Center where several dozen people sat glued to the television was overwhelming.  We muttered, "9 more outs," then "6 more outs," then "3 more outs" as the final three innings started.  The lady in the front row wiggled her fingers in a voodoo sign each time the Dodgers came to bat. When Jose Altuve snagged the final grounder and tossed it to Yuri Gurriel, the room erupted in cheers.  

In Houston at a watch party in Minute Maid Park, the crowd went crazy.

We watched the players, who seemed to relish every moment of every game, storm the field, World Champions at last.  Houston waited 56 years for that moment and finally it was here.  

On the field, they hoisted the championship trophy, Carlos Correa proposed to his girl friend, and George Springer, who set a record for home runs during a World Series, was named MVP.

On Friday the Houston Independent School District canceled 
classes so kids could attend the victory parade.  Nearly a million people crowded downtown Houston to cheer our heroes.  

We're back to everyday life now, but we won't forget those moments of triumph and joy, not ever.


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