Remembering Gma

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My grandmother acted almost as a second mother when I was growing up. There were days that she would come over to drag us out of bed so that we could get to school on time, because my mother had to go to work early. There were many times when she dutifully picked me up from school after various sports practices (although, there was that one time that she got caught up watching a special about a girl who was addicted to crystal meth, and forgot to come get me hehe), or brought me to and from work. When I was very young, she made sure I washed my hands before meals, even going so far as to feel them to see if they were wet, and to smell them for the scent of soap (I was a little rebel, so I guess this was necessary, haha). There were definitely times when I resented her, because I think it was difficult for twelve year old me to have another person telling her what to do, but now that I’m older, I look back on those times and love my Grandma for taking care of me. There are so many happy memories, looking back.

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I remember sitting on my Grandma’s lap, in her comfy armchair by the door, and playing with her fingernails, because she always wore a smooth, shiny opal nail polish that I loved. I remember her walking by me in the house, tickling my bum and saying “Yoohoo!” I remember asking for a piece of her gum, and her ripping a piece in half and giving both me and my sister a ration. I remember her teaching me how to walk like a model in the livingroom when I decided that I was going to be a model when I grew up (instead of a hula dancer). I remember all of the piano lessons that she gave me, even when I was frustrated and ready to give up, and that she was willing to start giving me lessons again after several years without practice. I remember her standing in the doorway as we pulled out of the driveway, and flicking the lights off and on and waving “I love you” at us as we drove away.

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I remember the time when she went to squirt lemon into her water, and accidentally put out the candle in the middle of the table. I remember the time when she found spinach behind her ear, and she wasn’t even the one eating spinach. I remember the time when she saw Angelina Jolie on the TV and did a double take because she thought she was seeing herself. I remember the time when she fell asleep during her own turn while we were playing Scrabble. I remember the time that she sat at the restaurant and giggled at the people walking by who were startled by the large bear statue.

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I remember her watching all of her trashy police reality shows and her westerns and talk shows. She would sometimes come to the bottom of the stairs and yell up to me when there was a guest that she thought I would enjoy watching. “BECKY! Craig Ferguson is on the Talk!” I remember that Carol kept her laughing for years just by imitating the man with the crazy smile that she had seen on Jeopardy. I remember her rolling up to me with her walker and saying “Beep beep!” I remember the funny clicking sound that her gum made. I remember her giggling to herself about a joke that someone had told 20 minutes ago, and saying “Speaking of…” about something that we hadn’t been speaking of for hours. I remember the many chain emails she sent me, and how fervent she was with her emailing, and then her Facebooking.

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I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing only her white hair, seemingly floating down the stairs, and groggily thinking she was a ghost. I remember coming out to the driveway so she could drive me to work, and finding her sitting there revving the engine, because she didn’t realize her foot was on the gas. I remember her hilarious proposals during Scrabble games. “There are lots of words that start with J… Jip, jap. Zip, zap.”

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I remember her taking us to Friendly’s ALL the time, and always letting me get an ice cream, with gummy bears on top. I remember her very specific ordering tastes when eating lunch anywhere (which we did a lot): chicken fingers with extra crispy fries. I remember the concoction of water with Sweet N Low and lemon juice that she made at every restaurant. I remember that the folks at the Hearth & Kettle, and the Route 28 Diner absolutely adored my Grandma. She made friends with people wherever she ate, to the extent that in the past year, she brought me in to the diner to introduce me to her friends. I remember going out to eat with her bowling buddies, and how much fun they all had together. I remember her saving her slice of cherry pie when she was at rehab, and sneaking it to me when I came to visit. I remember how horrible her roommate at rehab was to her, and how sweet and polite she was right back.

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Mostly, I just remember how much I love my Grandma, and I think about how much I’m going to miss her. It will be so strange to go home for the funeral this weekend, and to see her empty chair.

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Love you, Gma. I’ll see you again someday.

Evolene Ruth Boyne
1928 – 2015

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Language/history fun

This blog is feeling a little empty, and there’s a reason for that: I don’t like to write. My sister got all of the writing genes, and wrote all kinds of stories growing up, leaving me to sit in the corner and try to figure out puzzles. Ok, that’s not really how it happened, but she did get a love for writing that I have never had. Give us both a writing assignment, and she will launch into it with glee, while I will sit and sigh. I put off making this blog because I was afraid I wouldn’t write in it, and here I am, not writing in it. Oops.

I’m going to try to be better at this, but I make no promises.

I’ll start off by writing about something that I love: figuring out the puzzle of language. The other day, I learned how to say “last night” in Romanian. I thought it would be relatively straightforward- I’d already learned how to say last year (“anul trecut”- literally, “the year past”), so last night can’t be too different, right? Wrong.

In Romanian, in order to say “last night,” you say “azi noapte”, which literally means “today night”.

Why is this? I haven’t really been able to find an answer. Maybe it’s something similar to the way they measured time back in Biblical times, where the day began at sunset? Jewish Passover still starts at sundown of the previous evening. (Fun fact about different types of days: I read somewhere that for astronomers, the day begins at noon, so that night-time isn’t split between days.)

That way of thinking explains some questions that I had (or didn’t know I had) back in the States though. Such as “Why do people celebrate ‘First Night’ in Boston on New Years Eve? Isn’t it the LAST night of the year?” I think this article I read explains it pretty well:

In Christianity, Twelfth Night is a holiday on January 5 that marks the 12th and final night of the Christmas season. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the twelve days beginning on night of Christmas (December 25) and ending on Epiphany (January 6).

In the Middle Ages, this December period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season. Contrary to popular belief, Christmas is not the “first day of the Christmas.” Instead, it might be better described as the twelve days “after” Christmas.

By ancient reckoning, days and nights were counted separately, and the important night was often the night before, not the night of, the celebration (hence modern traditions of Christmas Eve and All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween). The 12 day count actually begins with the eve of December 25, the “first night.” The day of December 26 is the “first day,” the eve of December 26 the “second night,” and so on. The famous Twelfth Night is the eve of Epiphany, and the twelfth day is Epiphany itself. [Read the whole article here]

So there y’go. Christmas Eve used to be when the big celebration was, and following on that train of thought, New Year’s Eve would be the “First Night” of the new year.

So, the next time you use the phrase, “last night”, you can think of the Romanian “azi noapte” and throw yourself into the same language confusion that I experience every day 😉

Romania!

I feel that I am overdue for a blog post, now that I’ve been here in Romania for about a month.

Only a month, and I’ve had a whirlwind of things going on! I’ve found my apartment, made some friends, lost my ATM card for a few weeks, and spent some time in the hospital.

I knew there would be some highs and lows as I made the transition into a new culture, and I’ve been trying to stay positive about the lows, and hold on to the highs. I’m sure there will be many more of each to come. Overall, the lack of an ATM card was more frustrating to me than spending 3 nights in a Romanian hospital (go figure). But, I was without money for 2 weeks, and having to borrow money from your colleagues and wait to go shopping for some apartment needs sort of did some things to my pride. But I had some cash to go grocery shopping, and I didn’t really NEED that shower curtain rod, so all turned out well in the end. Even more frustrating was that I was trying to do everything the bank was asking me to do in order to prove that it was okay to give me my card back, and I kept hitting walls. Eventually, the bank called me to tell me that yes, they had gotten the okay to give me my card back… unfortunately I was then in the hospital and couldn’t get to the bank.

My Romanian hospital stay was slow, at its worst. I started going a little stir crazy, I couldn’t really communicate with my roommate, and at times wished I could just be back in my own bed, by myself, without visitors. But God blessed me with good friends who checked in on me and took care of me, and a doctor who I had met before at church, and who gave up his Tuesday evening to sit in the ER with me, chat, and help me understand what was going on. I learned that Romanian hospitals expect you to provide your own stuff, such as dishes, toilet paper, soap, etc. My friend and I were joking that maybe that’s why American hospitals are so much more expensive– you have to pay for the dishes. Fortunately my friends were able to bring me these things. Although, I didn’t know about the dishes until I’d been there a few nights… my friend brought me some dishes, and I finally understood why they had been bringing my roommate food, and then disappearing for a while before bringing me food: they were trying to find me paper plates, etc. to put my food on. Oops. Thank you, hospital workers, for taking the time to find me dishes! 🙂 Don’t worry, now I know, and I will be prepared for my next Romanian hospital stay. Which hopefully won’t happen.

God of my Joys

I was laying in bed the other night, praying for a friend, and I got myself thinking. I had prayed that she would bring her struggles to God, and then I stopped myself and added “as well as her joys.” Well, I thought, that’s something that I don’t really do that often. How many times have I been going through a rough time, or had some sort of complaint or problem, and gone to God with it? Many, many, many. But I can’t quite give the same number of times that I’ve been having an amazing day, and ran to tell Him how happy I was. What kind of relationship would I have with a friend, if I only came to them when I needed a shoulder to cry on? If I was standing there complaining to them, then got good news, and immediately ran out the door to go celebrate with someone else, without even stopping to tell them? I think God wants to hear our joys, too, not just our concerns. Here’s to the hope that I will bring everything to God in the future, not just the bad stuff.

Why I celebrate Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! This will likely be my last Christmas at home, at least for a while, so I’m trying to enjoy every second I can while I’m here. I’ve always loved Christmas– I love Christmas music, and scarves and hats, and spending the day with family, and how generally nice everyone gets. But the past few years, I’ve been learning to love Christmas for a different reason. I’ve grown up knowing that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus coming to us as a baby, but I’ll admit, it’s difficult to get past all of the snowmen and Santas, and to remember why we as Christians celebrate this day. So, more than anything else, as a reminder to myself:

The way I do this is to not just focus on Jesus’ birth, but the whole story, and the reason that he came in the first place. If people asked me “Why do we celebrate Christmas?” and all I answered was “Because we’re celebrating that Jesus was born!”, then it doesn’t really make sense. Not if you don’t already know the rest of the story. Why is it so awesome that Jesus was born?

I know, I know, we celebrate Easter in the spring, so why do we need to think about that now? Because that’s the point of all of this– we wouldn’t be so excited about Jesus being born if he didn’t grow up and die on the cross for our sins. And we wouldn’t be so excited about that if we weren’t so messed up that we need Him to save us. Which, let’s be honest, most of us don’t really, truly believe.

As humans, we want to be in charge of our lives, and so we turn our back on our Creator, and we try to live our own way. We separate ourselves from God, and that’s where we end up in big trouble, because we are sinful creatures, and we can’t measure up. That’s why we need Christmas– we need the Savior who humbled himself to be born as one of us, so that eventually, He could take the burden of our sins on Himself and sacrifice His life in place of ours.

So, let’s remember that today– we need Christmas. We need our Savior, Jesus Christ, and God was good enough to put it all together and make it happen so that we could be saved. That’s what Christmas is all about 🙂