Archive for March 1st, 2011

Giggles with Bananas and Grandma

My first granddaughter, Devon, turns sweet sixteen this month. So I am dipping into my Writer’s Well once more to copy a published article I wrote just about that long ago, for it was just prior to her birth.

Copies of the article reside in my files for more reasons that the fact that it was published. It is an important part of my writer-self  in the silence-breaking of family-held secrets, not because there was anything scandalous about them. Just because it was the way it was, and I grew into adulthood trying to bring it out into the open in my family and then in my writing. I have much more to do.

More importantly, it was also to establish it in my daughters’ and grandchildren’s family heritage. My birth mother would have a home in our homes as far as I could be responsible for it.

Another important aspect of this article was that I wrote something that held great value to me for the public eye — on purpose — when many of the intricacies of this secret were not completely resolved on the personal level.

When I attended my first International Women’s  Writing Guild the value, respect, and honor these women exhibited toward family generational love and pride soaked through me to my very bones. The information they researched, wrote about and shared produced tears that came from my soul, because I, too, wanted to go much further back to appreciate and enjoy what was in my heritage. Yet my family tree stopped dead above my parent’s branch and even my parents branch was a bit obscurred.

Every year I went back to Skidmore, I measured my “growth” by how much closer I was to working at writing as my real work in life. Each ensuing year tunneled me toward that goal. That I kept attending IWWG is what kept my eye focused on the goal.

So the year I wrote this, I had stepped up bravely and told the editor of the newly formed “Michigan Women’s Times” I wanted to write a column titled, “Old Woman, Wise Woman”. I was chronologically just past 50 at the time. She took me up on it and I had a week to produce my first column.

I am proud it was this one.

Going Giggles with Bananas; A grandmother’s youthful antics make their mark

My Grandmother Tanberg was the first grownup I knew who acted like a kid! For one thing, she giggled. It was just the kind of giggle that kept on growing, and traveling in you until it burst forth from your mouth in uncontrolled laughter.

When I was very young, I remember one morning she wiggled into bed between my brother and me. It was early in the morning, and definitely before anyone was supposed to be out of bed — and she brought a banana for us! All three of us went undercover, and as we fumbled in the dark, someone squeezed the banana so hard it popped right out of its peel into the sheets somewhere.

My father came into the room, prepared to discipline a couple of pre-schoolers, but when the covers were pulled off, there we were in Grandma’s embrace, giggling like a trio of toddlers. The stern look on his face disappeared and we recovered the banana while Grandma appeased Dad with the promise to read “quietly” to the children.

Grandma Tanberg was a regular part of our lives until our late elementary school years. Week-long stays at the lake became our annual summer vacation for many years. Grandma was always eagerly awaiting the grandchildren’s arrival.

We swam and played cards, board games and hide-and-seek. We popped popcorn or made Grandma’s gooey fudge. We read comic books together and listened to the stories she made up. Often we just sat on the cottage porch watching the twinkling stars and listening to the night sounds of the lakeshore waves and critters creating their evening symphony.

Grandma listened intently to our little child-chatter and pre-teen discoveries of life. And it never seemed like she could hug us enough.

It was a wonderful time. The highlight was being with Grandma. During the rest of the year, I wrote to her and received letters from her always looking forward to the next time we could be together.

(continued) TOMORROW: How a Golden Opportunity was missed because in some cases Silence is NOT Golden.

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