Annabella was an independent little six-year-old girl. There was not a thing that this little girl did not miss and her exploration sometimes got her in trouble. Her mother at times felt she was a handful. Nevertheless, she loved her child. It was nice for Annabella that her grandmother was just two houses from where they lived. It was common that Annabella came up missing from the yard. After checking on her child and couldn’t find her, she called her mother to see if she was there. Her precocious little girl was usually at her grandmother’s.
Annabella loved to visit her grandma. She would come bounding into the kitchen, screen door slamming, greeting her grandma with a big “HI” and a hug. When her house smelled good, she knew she would get a treat.
The grandmother sat down next to her granddaughter at the kitchen table. Today, grannie baked brownies. Usually Annabella would chatter nonstop but today she quietly eating her snack. As grannie looked at the child with a beautiful complexion, blue eyes and hair flowing down over her shoulders, she saw such hope and potential of what she was capable of becoming.
With each bite of her snack, Annabella looked around the kitchen. Grannie would ask an occasional question; the child would reply “no” or just shrug her little shoulders. Grannie became concerned about what was troubling her little granddaughter.
After a little pause, grannie asked, “Would you like to hear about when I was about your age?” Annabella nodded her head up and down. Grannie looked at the child and began to speak. When I was in grade school, I had two friends and we did everything together including sharing our secrets with each other. They were my best friends. School came to an end and summer couldn’t go by quick enough to see my two friends again.
When school started in the fall, things were not the same. My two friends seemed different to me. They were not as friendly with me and wanted to do other stuff. I wondered what had happened during the summer. A few weeks into school, these two girls turned on me. They started saying bad things about me that were not true and they would say mean things to me. I was really hurt that they didn’t want us to be friends anymore.
I came home crying. My mother asked what was wrong. I told her what had happened. She held me and said that she was sorry for what happened and said that those two girls were a true reflection of their insecurity and I should feel sorry for them. I know you are disappointed and it hurts to think they didn’t treat you well, but it will get better and you will find a true friend. After a moment grannie began again. My mother looked down at me and said, “You are a good person with many wonderful talents and we love you just the way you are.”
With a loving look grannie leaned closer to Annabella, then my mother gave me this piece of advice about people: “Some come into your life for a short time, other people stay a little longer but eventually fade away. However, there are a very few people that become true friends that last a lifetime. The trick is to wait to find those people who can be a true friend for life.”
Taking a deep breath, Annabella looked at her grandmother thinking about what she had shared, then in a soft voice she said, “Thanks, Grandma,” and kissed her on the cheek as she darted out the kitchen door to go back home.
The Learning Curve Is Tougher than We Think
When we were kids, the learning curve was there and it was easy. Our brains were like sponges: soaking up every word and lesson that we heard.
Then, as we aged, things got tougher. There was so much information in our brains, that we thought it impossible to soak up yet another word or use another neuron.
And yet, we continue to learn. And learn. And learn. When I was a child, my mother thought that I needed to learn to cook and to sew. Not because I was “just a girl” but because she knew—KNEW—that it would make me a well-rounded person as I got older. And she was right—so VERY right.
My first job, after college, found me wanting to have a real sewing machine of my very own. After all, I now had some money that was earning and, living at home, still afforded me some amount of flexible cash. So, off to the store I went and found myself with a brand new, top-of-the-line Singer sewing machine. And then I was appalled because I had just spent a FULL month’s salary on a machine.
But the learning curve kicked back in and I read the manual and learned how to use that machine. Sewed on it for years and made not only clothing, but household items such as curtains and draperies.
Fast forward a bit and, after marriage and children, and more clothing sewn and more curtains made and more homemade gifts given, this old Singer had just about had it and a new machine was purchased. And, about 25 years ago, when I was, well, 25 years younger than now, I made the BIG purchase and got a sewing machine, that not only sewed normal stitches, but also embroidered with the help of special cards that helped the computerized sewing machine how to make designs. After learning the new learning curve, I had a wonderful time with that machine and made monogramed sweatshirts for everyone; made four velvet bridesmaid dresses for my son’s wedding; made curtains with small animals embroidered on it for the grandson and made dresses for the first granddaughter.
That machine lasted over 20 years before it died a natural death. And, although I had convinced myself that I no longer needed an embroidery machine, I found myself missing it. I purchased an inexpensive Singer machine that, though it was inexpensive was, and is, an excellent machine that serves all my purposes well. Once again, the learning curve kicked in with a little more difficulty than it had ever taken. And again, I was sewing dresses and other items for my granddaughters two and three. Sewing clothing—especially for children—is not necessarily cheaper than buying the same items, but the labor of love cannot be challenged.
Last year I purchased a new serging machine. This machine does an overlocking stitch and is almost an industrial machine. When I brought it into the store in July for its first annual servicing, I spotted some new embroidery machines just sitting there on the table waiting for me to notice them. And notice them, I did…
After looking and seeing them work, I told the clerk that I would think about it while my serger was in being serviced. Three weeks later, I had used my learning curve to get onto the computer and compare several machines. When I went back to get my serger, I did, indeed purchase this new machine (which, I am sure, will be the last purchase of such a machine for me). So, now, here I am, sitting in my new sewing/craft/guest room and practicing how this machine works. I broke a needle yesterday and had to read the manual to see how to change it. So I read, and I changed and I learned one more new thing.
The learning curve is working yet again. And I guess that this old brain of mine holds more than I ever thought it would. Brain cells are not yet falling out of my ears from overflow in the brain and that is a good thing. A Very Good Thing!
“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds on earth and danced the sky on laughter’s silvered wings.
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds
And done a hundred things you have not dreamed of.”
Although I will admit that today’s flight experience is not quite as ethereal as John McGee describes in my favorite poem, I still love to fly. Disregard the stress of traffic and weather delays to the airport. Forget about the intimidating body scan at the TSA checkpoint. Slide right past the Southwest seat selection system. Which happens to be complicated for me: no little kids, no big, sweaty guys, no dogs, no coughers, and no one tucking into a sloppy sandwich. My ideal seat is next to a skinny sleeper, up front and on the aisle. In spite of the airport aggravations, when that plane “slips the surly bonds” and “climbs sunward” I fill with my own brand of “tumbling mirth.”
My first flying experience happened 50 years ago on my honeymoon, when ladies got dressed up in your best travel attire, complete with nylons and heels, and practically walked right onto the plane after checking your bags. We were travelling to Spain on a night flight. As I gaped out the huge windows at Detroit Metro, I was awestruck as the enormous nose of a 747 materialized out of the darkness like a dinosaur in the mist. It had roomy seats that tilted back enough to sleep. The meals were hot, delicious and not prepared by me. You could cuddle up with a pillow and blanket, dozing until the sun peeked through your window and you caught the aroma of pancakes and fresh coffee. This girl from the east side of Detroit who had never travelled in anything other than a city bus or my dad’s old Chevy, was in love!
I’m pleased to say my love affair with flying is still hot and heavy—a good thing since I now board a plane to cross the country about four times a year. But like in most affairs, I’ve endured 50 years of compromises. I now travel in sweatshirt and sweatpants, since you can’t get blankets aboard anymore. (Probably a healthier option!) Not too shabby since I have seen grown adults in their P.J.s. Socks and slides have replaced nylons and heels, courtesy of long lines and shoe removal protocol at the TSA. No jewelry—see above. Pack a purse with fruit and almonds, unless you can sustain yourself for several hours on a teensy bag of pretzels. And keep coffee to a minimum. You might not snag an aisle seat.
Yet, I find I don’t really need a comfy chair, a tasty meal or solicitous service to enjoy my flight experience. The one compelling reason I love to fly still remains. Whatever happens after you put those bags on the scale and emerge from TSA—it’s not your fault. You have now formally and completely surrendered culpability for any mishap or disaster and placed your fate in the snug embrace of the FAA. Lost luggage, arrival is delayed, connecting flight is missed—not your fault. Wing falls off, runs out of gas—not your fault. Pilot is drunk, terrorists on board—not your fault.
I can accept bad things happening, as long as it’s not my fault. There is a soothing serenity in the total lack of responsibility while flying in a plane. Kind of like giving blood, but you don’t get the big cookies. Maybe as I’m aging, and feeling less competent, I feel the need to be taken care of. Or maybe feeling stress from running the show is a Polish mom thing. But I treasure that half day of relinquished responsibility as I treat myself to a small Starbucks. In case I don’t get a seat on the aisle.