The Vanishing Grandmother

Grandmothers are disappearing at an alarming rate. Statistically this shouldn't be happening. With the baby boomer generation now reaching their sixth decade, women of the right age are everywhere.

Along with grandmothers other things are missing, too. Cookie jars are going empty. Home-baked birthday cakes are few and far between. The type of grandmother who once baked cookies and cakes is getting harder and harder to find. I think my grandmother would have said they're becoming as scarce as "hen's teeth".

Today's youngsters are greeted by a different kind of grandmother. This modern version has never let the little tykes call her 'Grandmother'. She also will not answer to 'Grandma' or 'Mamaw'.

The grandmothers of today often introduce themselves as 'Mimi' or 'Honey' or 'Foxy'. Others might be known as 'Gigi' or 'Babe'. Some prefer that the child call them by their given name.

The fashionable names have a cute ring to them. There's no harm in attaching a unique or different label to identify a grandmother. After all, even Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

My only concern with changing grandmother's name is that some are backing away from their traditional role in the family. Something that looks like an innocent name change on the surface may go much deeper.

In our youth-dominated culture a new grandmother may feel uncomfortable having others know she has entered that stage of life. Many of today's grandmothers have fought the aging process tooth and nail. She exercises at the gym, wears trendy clothes, and is on a first name basis with the local plastic surgeon. A woman like this has worked too hard to stay youthful to allow anyone to call her by an over-the-hill name. Instead, a name with no age association suits her better. This person won't be called 'Granny', and she might not be ready to accept the role, either.

One of the newspaper sections I read daily is the obituaries. This morning I came across the death notice for a 70-year-old woman. The tribute stated that she was known to many as "Granny Jones". She loved to prepare meals for friends and family. Among the survivors were four children and twelve grandchildren.

With the holiday season approaching, I thought of the hole her passing would leave in this family. Granny must have roasted countless turkeys and baked hundreds of pies over the years. Bless her heart. Now where will her family spend the holidays? Will someone step up to fill her shoes or will the family be gathered somewhere in a restaurant for the holiday meals this year?

Now that Granny is gone, is any relative willing to pull raw giblets from the depths of a turkey cavity? I fear the new model of grandmother might not. Is there anyone left who will find joy in spending a week cooking and baking so she can see her family sit down together for 15 minutes? How many of those grandmothers are left?

For those who are nearing the time when grandchildren will be born into your life, put some thought into what the little ones will call you. Maybe you'll choose one of the chic and trendy names for yourself. Perhaps you'll opt to stick with one of the more tried and true, but outdated titles. Whichever way you're leaning, think about your reasons for the selection. Are you making your choice to hide your age? Does your choice reflect how you feel about your role as grandmother?

No matter if your grandchildren call you Babe or Granny, I hope you're not as concerned about looking young as you are about looking after the young. Grandmothers make terrific role models. The kids don't care if your hair is turning gray or if your skin is getting saggy, but they know if you care about them.

So, how do you keep a grandmother from vanishing? A woman must be brave, put her hand in a turkey cavity, and find those raw giblets.



The Rules of Leggings

This atrocity has rocked on far too long. It's time to draft some rules concerning the wearing of leggings in public. I say it's time because my eyes can't unsee what they have seen. Today the offender was a 60+ year-old woman in printed leggings. I happened to be walking behind her in a grocery store aisle. She was energetic. Her shirt did not cover her backside. My eyes are still burning.

This incident was by no means isolated, but it did spur a call to action. I've made a first draft of legging rules. These may need to be amended and expanded, but I'll start here.

1.  Under no circumstances may leggings be substituted for pants.

2.  Leggings must be worn with a top that is longer than the wearer's rear end.

3.  A person who is aware she is overweight should not choose a printed fabric for leggings. Solid colors only, please.

4.  Women of a grandmotherly age may wear appropriate leggings (see rules 1, 2, and 3), however, they should not attempt to look or act like teenagers.

5.  If you plan to wear leggings in public, do everyone a favor and take a hard look a yourself in a full length mirror before leaving home.

These rules may not cover it all (no pun intended), but I hope they will bring awareness to this growing problem. Help me out if you have suggestions. In the mean time, shield your eyes, if necessary.

If you have a friend or loved one who continues to violate these rules, take measures. Think of it as an act of kindness. It's somewhat like hiding the car keys when a person becomes unable to safely drive. For the good of society, you may have to hide the leggings.




Life would be monotonous and boring if nothing ever changed. Most of the time I embrace change. Looking back over the past twenty, ten, or even five years, much for me has changed. I've even been known to change my hair color on a whim.

The one thing I don't like to change is a clock. Today, because of the end of Daylight Saving Time, I have reset clocks on the microwave, the oven, and the coffeemaker. I've changed the time on the clocks in the bathroom, the bedroom, and the den. I updated the car clock. My computer, phone, and watch all took care of the task for me while I slept. The rest of the clocks in the house are all still an hour ahead. Tomorrow I could remove the remaining clocks from the wall, spin the hands back an hour, then struggle to rehang the clocks. Or, I could avoid all that and wait until spring. Daylight Saving Time will roll back around, and the time displayed will be correct again.

I don't dislike Daylight Savings Time. What I dislike is the resetting of my body along with the clocks twice a year. There must be a better way. If Daylight Saving Time is beneficial to the masses, then why not keep it year round and avoid the change.

I don't mind change, as long as I don't have to change my clocks. Time is valuable. That's my two cents, and you can keep the change.




Messages on Shirts

When I'm in a public place I always notice kids, and I observe how they're dressed. Unless it's an older kid or a pre-teen, I have to assume the parent makes the clothing selection for the the child. Much of children's clothing involves some kind of graphic from television or movies. Some shirts glorify a school or sports team.

Other shirts sport a bold message across the front, and some of these have a sweet or positive message. But, there are a few that make me do a double take. Here are some of the more disturbing t-shirt messages I've seen recently that have left me wishing someone would turn the shirt wrong side out:

Rule Breaker

I May Be Small But I'm In Charge

Wild One

Rules? What Rules?

Warning I Bite!

Why would a parent want these messages plastered on their child's clothing? Where do they even find these things?

The designer likely intended the messages to be humorous, but I can't laugh at these. Maybe I'm wrong, and I hope I am, but I believe these messages go deeper than just some ink on fabric. I'm afraid they reflect the adult's attitude toward parenting. All these shirts say the child is in charge. If this is the case, the cute youngster wearing the t-shirt today will grow up to fulfill those messages tomorrow.


Put on Your Literacy Apron

I was the recipient of a hand made apron as a door prize at the White County Creative Writers Conference. I've decided to call it my literacy apron. This adorable design is a great gift for a writer, and it would also be a perfect gift for a teacher or a librarian. The big lower pocket has ample room for a note pad, pen, and voice recorder to keep any ideas from slipping away. Or maybe I'll fill mine up with paperbacks so I'll have one handy all the time.

Apron or no apron, writers, teachers, and librarians are all about promoting literacy. In spite of our best intentions, 14% of the U.S. population can't read.

It's no secret that people who read have an advantage. According to DoSomething.org, reading can be a life-changer. The site lists many facts about illiteracy, such as:

1.  2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America's inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.

2.  Students who don't read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school.

3.  Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the court system are functionally illiterate, proving there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.

4.  More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.

5. Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live in poverty and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who read proficiently.

There are holidays in every month of the year to remind us of the importance of literacy. August 9 was National Book Lovers' Day. September 6 was National Read a Book Day. Today is International Literacy Day.

Any day would be a good day to put on your literacy apron and help someone learn to read.


A Writing Conference and New Friends

Yesterday I attended the 2017 White County Creative Writers Conference, and I came away with inspiration, writing tips, and new friends. The group sponsors this annual event in Searcy, Arkansas, but this was the first time I have been able to attend. The speakers were awesome.

Dr. Frank W. Brown spoke on memoir writing. He has compiled the memories of growing up in Searcy into a memoir so his children and grandchildren will someday have a chance to know the things they may not be interested in asking about or listening to while they are young.

Peggy Archer is an author of several children's books. She did an outstanding presentation on "show, don't tell". This is a great reminder for writers of any age group. Peggy did an additional presentation on poetry.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter led a session on how to avoid rejections and red lines from publishers. This is the kind of information all writers are on the edge of their seats to hear. Shannon writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has published numerous books.

In addition to all the knowledge I gained, I also took home an honorable mention for a short story. Dot Hatfield made my day when she called my name.

I went to the conference solo, and I had not met anyone else who was attending. No worries, writers love to get acquainted. I didn't get photos of all the writers I met, but I'm happy to be able to count some of them as new friends. Shirley and Mary Lee, I hope to see you at the next conference.