Mona Lisa and Me

Me at 3
Me at 3

“No matter where you go in the room, Mona Lisa will be looking right at you.”

I remember wondering how that could be possible as I listened to my Godfather talk about a picture that was on display in his living room.

Believe me when I tell you that I was NOT convinced that the lady pictured could do that. So, I tested his assertion. I mean I went to every corner of that room to try that thing out and, sure enough, Mona Lisa continued to look at me- no matter where I went.

I should’ve known he was right.

By the way, my Godmother, who looked like a beautiful Black Betty White, loved laughing at my Godfather as he carried on this sort of ‘grown up’ conversation with three year old me.  Best believe that there was nothing that he could ask me or tell me about that I didn’t have a quick response or answer for; well except for the Mona Lisa thing.  And to be honest, when all else failed, I’d just dip into my vivid imagination and make something up!

Making stuff up is a child’s prerogative isn’t it?

Who knew that my Godfather was teaching me to become a creative communicator 😉

At any rate, during visits with my Godparents, I loved watching and listening to my Godfather play jazz tunes ‘by ear.’  From what I understand, he and his sister were raised in a household that placed a high value on education.  In fact, his sister, who was highly intelligent, went on to become a professor at a prestigious American University.  One of the things that I remember most about her was the love that she had for her dear poodle, Zora.

By the way, you are correct if you guessed that her dog was named for Zora Neale Hurston, the Black novelist, folklorist and anthropologist.

Well to me, at that time, “Zora” meant nothing more than small, yappy, white poodle-period.

Anyway, while my Godfather challenged my intellect, my Godmother, who was a nurse, but had the skills and knowledge of today’s Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant, kept close watch on my physical wellbeing. To be frank, she had been doing so prior to my Earthly debut.  In essence, she handpicked my mother’s OB/Gyn and my Pediatrician; both of whom were top-flight. All in all, she took my parents under her wing the minute they arrived in Augusta. So it was only natural that she and her husband would become my Godparents.

By now you are probably wondering why I have coerced you into accompanying me on a promenade down the streets of my memories. In other words, what is the point of this post?

Well I am glad that you asked!  So here we go!

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to pour into the lives of young children -much like my Godparents did for me. Realize that this does NOT have to cost you anything but a little bit of time.

Here are a couple of suggestions as to how you might do this:

Take a child to the public library and show them the process of finding and checking out a book.  Then, read to them.  You might also take them to free events that introduce them to different cultures.  Look for museum specials so that you can also introduce them to the arts.

Teach a child how to prepare your favorite simple dishes like salads and sandwiches. If they are older, you might show them how to use the stove to prepare a cooked meal.

Allow a child to accompany you to the bank, store or any other place where you take care of business.  While there, explain to them what a checking/ savings account is and allow them to watch you conduct a transaction like making a deposit or cashing a check.  If you are fully automated in the banking realm, show them how online transactions work.  Likewise, take them to a grocery store and show them how to select food items and how to pay for them.

Talk to them about money; specifically, about how it is earned, invested, spent, donated and saved.

Allow a child to watch you as you engage in a favorite pastime or routine activity. Help them to research activities that they may be interested in learning how to do.

To be honest, you can apply all of the suggestions above to any person that would benefit from that knowledge.  Get creative about sharing your skills, abilities and knowledge with others. Remember, you can adjust any of my suggestions in order to make them age appropriate.

Now, before I go, I’d like to have a word with anyone who has been named the Godparent of a child:

Godparents, take your job seriously!  Feel free to use my suggestions.  Please don’t think that you are functioning as a proper Godparent if your only involvement in your Godchild’s life is taking them to get a hamburger and a T-Shirt once a year. And for those of you who simply flaunt the title “Godparent” while adding NO value to the child’s life, I would like to challenge you to step up your game in a major way!

Lady G, is now stepping down from the soapbox!

Honestly, I thank God everyday for my Godparents; especially my Godmother who continued to watch over me through my high school years.  I also thank God for my daughter’s Godparents who have always been so very loving, kind and generous to her and my family.  They remind me so much of my own Godparents.

May God always bless and keep these four souls for all the days of their lives; even until the end of time.

Friends, I also urge you to take time to think about and remember the adults who poured into you when you were a child.  Challenge yourselves to pay it back and forward.

Ron’s Time Tunnel: The Loveseat Part I

LOVESEAT

The tragic thing about Gramp was that, as she grew older, her memory started to fade; not her long-term memory. She never forgot those old stories but she did forget my name sometimes. During her latter years, I had ventured off into the “wild blue yonder” of the United States Air Force and only returned home twice a year at the most; so it wasn’t entirely unexpected that she would forget me. When I would return home on leave and knock on her door, she would open the door to, what for her, must have seemed a familiar face; but one she could not, for the life of her, recall a name for or where she recognized it from. She would greet me at the door; smiling that gold toothed smile, and welcome me warmly into her home. I could see the questions and confusion peeping through the smiling brown eyes, but she was too kind and polite to ask outright, as might have a less genteel host, “Who are you, and what do you want at this hour of the night?”

Eventually, after having offered her “uninvited” guest a “co-cola” or a glass of water and a seat on the worn, familiar sofa or one of the two, “Naugahyde” recliners lining three of the four walls of her quaint domicile, she would eventually get around to asking, albeit apologetically, “Now, who did you say you were?” To which I’d answer, “I’m Ronnie, your grandson; Fletcher’s oldest son”; being careful not to let any impatience, frustration, or sarcasm seep into my tone.

Then her brown eyes would flash with recognition and a smile would slowly spread across her kindly, golden toned face as she would chime, “Oh yes, you’re the one in the Army?” “Yes Gramp”, I would answer, not bothering to correct her on which branch of the military that I served in. It didn’t matter. I was home, here was Gramp and old stories were sure to be on the evening’s agenda. Anyway! In Cuthbert—my home town—everyone who was in the military was in the “Army”, as far as the citizenry was concerned.

The following story, entitled “THE LOVE SEAT” took place as I was visiting a friend’s mother in the nursing home. I sat in the “TV” room/lobby and waited while the Nurse’s Assistants changed my friend’s mother’s bed. As I sat on the LOVE SEAT I met a lady who reminded me of my Grandmothers; Nancy (Raytakka), Mollie, and Annie. Please enjoy THE LOVE SEAT:

     I never got her name, but as I sat there on the small “love seat” in the dayroom of the nursing home, or “Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center”, as some nursing homes are now called, she came and sat down beside me. She held her big red purse close to her chest with a white-knuckled grip that I’m sure would have caused me a degree of pain, had we shaken hands. She held that purse as if it contained a million dollars, or her life’s savings. She held it as if she believed that loosening her grip would have allowed the purse to just grow wings and fly away.

She sat down and immediately began an unsolicited conversation with me. I don’t know what made her choose me. Maybe I just looked friendly to her, or maybe I reminded her of the son who’d deposited her there in the “healthcare and rehab” and then forgotten her. Maybe this was her seat and it was I who was trespassing, or maybe there was just nowhere else to sit. I had not looked around, prior to her arrival, to see if the latter was the case. She whispered to me in a surprisingly strong, raspy voice, considering that she was a small-framed lady, with not much else covering her brittle bones except the thin, blue-veined, cream colored skin of a Black lady, through whose blue veins much Caucasian blood flowed. “You know I’m 92 years old?” she rasped. “What?” I’d replied in surprise.

“She gets around well for one so aged” slid a thought through my mind…

Please come back next week  for the conclusion to “The Loveseat”