Tag Archives: responsibility

Being Sitti

Being Sitti

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I have been reflecting on the awesome responsibility of being a grandmother.  It has been a transition to say the least. And with all transitions there is an adjustment period and an awkward sense of the unknown as well as the anticipation of what is to come and how it will all look once everyone finds their sea legs.

My gracious son and daughter in law let me choose the name I would like to be called by little Boe and it was a quick decision.  Like my Sittis before me, I felt that the Arabic name for grandmother was more than appropriate because it speaks of a long history of Lebanese women who wanted nothing more than to cook, feed, and make a cozy home for their families.  And even though I had the means and awareness to get a college degree and beyond and have a thriving and rewarding career, I have to admit my first goal when I stepped onto a college campus at 17 years old was to get my MRS degree, have a family, and create a loving home for them.

I was named after my maternal Sitti, Rosa Maloof, and of course like all good Catholic girls, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  (My parents must have had high aspirations for me!)  I had to do some fact checking with my brothers and as my memory serves me, I only saw my maternal grandmother three times in my entire life.  She and my grandfather lived in Atlanta and were not fond of flying.  We were a family of eight in California and traveling across the country to see our grandparents was a bit out of the budget.  I was able to spend time with them once as a little girl, once as a teenager, and much later when I was 30.  When my mother passed away at 61 years old, they did not come out for her funeral.  It is still incredulous to me today.  I would move heaven and earth to see my children in any state (or state).

My father’s mother, Louise, died in childbirth along with her fifth child.  My dad was the oldest and we think (our collective memories) he was about 6 years old when she died.  The baby’s name was John and I remember my dad telling me the story- never with a straight face- always with tears running down his cheeks.  My brother John was named after my dad’s little brother.

My grandfather sent for a wife from Lebanon (cousins.. can you do some fact checking for me?  This is part urban legend passed down through oral history).  Her name was Madeleine and she had to quickly adjust to a new country, a new husband, and to my grandfather Thomas’ four children.  They went on to have four more children of their own whom my grandmother favored.  And she favored their children as well.

With that said, I must confess that I don’t remember having a Sitti who wanted to kiss me and hold me, babysit me and get on the floor and play with me and/or agonize over the next time she might be able to spend time with me.

I write all this not so that you will feel sorry for me.  I write it for my own understanding and for my children’s understanding.  I write it to rub a salve on a wound that has just recently been exposed as I reflect on my own experience as a grandmother.  I write it to help me understand this longing in my heart to be near my new grandson and be a part of his life.  I write it because I know I am not alone in this reflection and confession and to open a conversation about the role of a grandmother in a child’s life.

In the song Both Sides Now Joni Mitchell sings “Something’s lost and something’s gained in living every day.”  Life is not always easy.  Family is not always as Norman Rockwell would illustrate but I believe people try.  In the absence of holding me and reading stories to me, my Sittis cooked and cleaned and fed me and I suppose they thought that was enough.  But this Sitti wants something different with her grandchildren.

I would love to hear your thoughts on being a grandparent.

 

 

 

 

My Easter Confession

My Easter Confession

 

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Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It has been so long that I can’t even remember when I last went to confession and these are my sins.

Or at least the latest ones.

Or the ones I can remember.  BTW are we responsible for the ones we can’t remember?

Oh Lordy.  Well here goes.

I did not attend any Easter services this season.  Not Holy Thursday.  Not Good Friday.  Not Easter Vigil.

Zero, zip, nada.

I did this intentionally so now you know why I’m here today.

Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.

Instead..

I cleaned my house and did my Target, TJMaxx and Trader Joes shopping. I worked in my garden, fertilized all of my succulents and marveled at the first spring flowers on my Cecile Brunner Rose. I cooked a bit and squeezed lemons to freeze for future Lebanese delicacies.  I went to dinner and a movie with a good friend. I finished a novel and started a new one.  Took a morning hike and photographed several cows with their calves.

For the grand finale, Easter, I shared a meal with my wonderful family, chased toddlers around the house and played with my little grandson.

For these and all my sins I am sorry.

Now, Father, I’m sure you want to know why this cradle Catholic defied all of the rules.

My reasoning?  I wanted to see what it was like to live in a secular world without the sacred.  I wanted to see what it’s like to not believe, to not have my Catholic community, to not sing and pray for my loved ones and the world at large.  I wanted to see if God in nature was enough for me.

All in all it was a very spiritual experience.  But here is what I discovered.

I realized that I missed the incense, the chanting, the candles and the ancient scripture.  I missed the washing of the feet and the opportunity to meditate on service and being a woman for others. I missed the veneration of the cross and the church bells and the bowed heads. I missed the experience of humility that comes from believing in something that is beyond myself and out of my control.  I missed the celebration and the lilies filling the sanctuary.  I missed the Alleluia and the joy that comes after the sacrifices of Lent.

I missed the good old fashioned Catholic aerobics… standing for a half hour gospel and then springing up and down and up and down to the rhythm of the rituals and the liturgy.

I missed it all.  And now I feel an indescribable void.

So, Father, I guess you can take the girl out of the Catholic but you can’t take the Catholic out of the girl.  I’m sure you have an appropriate penance for me?  10 Hail Marys and a Glory Be?  100 continuous genuflections?  A Novena with my head covered?

You missed it, my dear.  Penance done.  Amen.  Hallelujah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Gifts… A Legacy of Love

Christmas Gifts… A Legacy of Love

I love the beautiful Christmas song “Mary Did You Know?”  It talks about how Mary came to discover that she had birthed the savior of the world.  Despite her elite appointment as the mother of Jesus, she had to go through what every mother has had to go through.  The months of carrying a child.  The pain of labor.  The miracle of birth.  The daily care and feeding of an infant.  The watching and the worrying and wondering if she’d done this whole parenting thing right or if she could have done it differently or better.

I never quite experienced what love was until I had my first born son.  I remember feeling like a co-creator with God.  I thought I had earned an academy award or at least a thunderous round of applause.  It was such a magnificent feat yet so ordinary really.  Women do it every day.

But the miracle for me was how my life changed in every facet.  I lived each subsequent day in love with this little infant.  I had become a conduit of love.  The love I received from my own mother who labored to deliver me.  The love of both my parents. The love of my siblings and my extended family.   The love I’ve received from friends and people who have touched my life in a significant way.  The love and blessings and forgiveness I have received from my God.

All this love infused into my first born son.

To love is to take on a huge responsibility.  It is a promise to be true and to stand by and watch from a safe distance sometimes rather than rush in and fix.  Love can be fierce and protective or it can be consistent and dependable.  When we take on the challenge of loving someone we open the floodgates of all the love we’ve received into our lives and allow it to flow freely into our new found love.

I am so thankful for this legacy of love that I have been gifted.  Perhaps it is the most precious Christmas gift I have ever received.  And the most invaluable gift that I can give.

<3

 

 

Diva to the World

Diva to the World

 

I celebrated my birthday on Thursday and am now another year older and a wee bit wiser.  Several years ago I received a birthday card from a wonderful friend that had a similar picture to this one on the outside and on the inside it said “Diva to the World”.  I loved that card and practically tore my bedroom apart last night looking for it but to no avail.

When a woman gets to a certain age birthdays take on a whole new meaning.  I am in no way a “Diva to the World” but I can appreciate that it is a goal to strive for when outward beauty wanes and inside wisdom takes precedence. There is certainly a profound moment when a woman realizes that this transition has occurred.

There is much responsibility that comes with being this kind of woman.  We have so much to share and teach through the manner in which we live our lives.  Do we whine about every wrinkle and emerging gray hair?  Or do we walk with confidence, knowing that we have discovered many of the secrets of life- having traversed our own personal paths through dark alleys and into unknown caves- across high scary platforms that have build within us character and strength.

As women of a certain age we have a responsibility to mentor, to refrain from destructive gossip and to uplift other women in our lives.  We also have the ability to love fully and unconditionally arising from the perspective we have gained in our years of chasing our own inner demons and knowing that none of us is without flaw or weakness.

I found this beautiful quote in one of my journals as I looked and looked for that Diva to the World birthday card.

A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.” ~Jacqueline Bisset

To all my “Diva” sisters…

Live with integrity and grace.

Happy Birthday.