Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

What’s In Your Box?


Last week, I received a Panic Call from the Admissions Office of the University. They had requested my transcripts from the high school I graduated from but had yet to receive them.

I imagine that someone from my school was still wandering through the catacombs to find this ancient document and had yet to return from their dark and dusty search.

I was asked if I had ANYTHING that would prove I was a high school graduate. They would be able to accept a copy of my high school diploma until the transcripts arrived.

“Well, I doubt that after forty five years that I still have my diploma on hand, but I guess I could check ‘The Box.'”

“What box?” the admissions director asked.

With a sigh, I said, “You don’t want to know.  I’ll get back to you.”

I have kept up the family tradition, passed down by generations of McMahon’s, of owning a Family Box.  It’s cardboard and dwells in my closet along with unused shoes and the Christmas decorations.

What’s in it?  It’s filled with photos and family memorabilia that never made it to the Family albums, never earned a place of honor on the wall and usually, it’s hard to identify where the contents came from.

Many times over the years, I would stare at the box and swear to go through it and put the photos in albums.  Never happens.  When the contents threaten to overflow, I just go out and get a bigger box.

A search through “The Box” normally involves spending countless hours staring at dead relatives, places I can’t identify or people who have escaped into the dark recesses of my memory; their names just on the tip of my tongue but never remembered.  The box holds the memories but doesn’t always share it’s secrets!

A lot of hours are spent looking at pictures at a younger version of my parents, my siblings and yours truly and of course, my own little darlings.  I’ll shake my head when I come across pictures of ex-husbands and reach out to throw them out, but never manage to do so. They were a part of my life, albeit an unpleasant part, and they had earned their place in “The Box.”

I think the only thing that I ever managed to take out of the box and discard was the flower I so carefully wrapped in cellophane from the wrist corsage I wore to my Senior Prom.  It had turned into a dangerous looking fungus and turned out to be the source of that funky smell I noticed each time I approached “The Box.”

Having to spend a day or two searching through the box was not what struck fear into my heart.  I knew if my box failed to turn up the elusive diploma, it just might be in my deceased sister’s collection which I inherited when she passed.

She didn’t have a box like mine, she was a more prolific family historian.  Her collection is stored in two suitcases and three garbage bags.

Of course, my mother who is still alive and kicking (bless her heart) has a box.  That box resides in the state of Washington, where my mom now lives, and there is no way I’m jumping a plane to look for my diploma.

After the Admissions departments phone call, I did the next best thing than to having to go to “The Box.”  I called the high school and begged the woman who answered to help me out.  She took pity on me when I explained about “The Box” and faxed a copy of my transcripts to the University.

Whew, it was a narrow escape!  Now I can rest easy and get back to my studies.  I did make a note to buy a bigger box…after all, I’ll need room for all of those Christmas pictures I’ll be taking!

If my daughter is reading this, and giggling over my dilemma, she should be forewarned.  When I go, honey, you get “The Box.”  Tee hee!


Update And A Thank You


I wanted to update you all on what’s been going on with the situation that I wrote about in my post “A Plea For Help.”

The young boy has been released from the hospital and is now with his mother.  The Grandparents have a lawyer seeking to remove the boyfriend from the home and the birth father is petioning for joint custody so he has a say in the care of the child.  The Grandparents are hoping that they will be able to petition the court to prevent the mother from leaving the state as they now fear that their daughter might bring the child out of this state’s jurisdiction.

So, legal issues are at play and in the hands of lawyers and the judicial system. Hopefully, a mutual agreement can be reached by all parties and that the child will be safe and get any help he needs.

I made a simple plea for help from my WordPress friends and the response was staggering.  All of your information and advice had been forwarded to the Grandparents and they want me to convey their heartfelt thanks for taking the time to offer support and encouragement.

I cannot thank you all enough.  I wish I could tell you how much it meant to me to realize that I have so many friends and that they truly wanted to help.  Each and every one of you holds a special place in my heart and I wish I could offer more than a simple Thank You.

Hopefully, the family situation will be resolved in the next month or so, but with the resources you all supplied and that the Grandparents followed up on, I believe a happy ending for all is possible.

So, again, Thank You for responding to my plea for help.


Mary Ellen McMahon


Some Of My Favorite Dads


Today is a day for remembering our fathers and I wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary.  I wanted to pay tribute to some of those “other” dads that I grew up with and loved to watch on television.  So, let’s talk a stroll back down memory lane and say “Happy Father’s Day”  once more to those dads.


Andy Taylor – The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Taylor was a gentle, loving dad who always seemed to have the right words to guide Opie along the way.  And, he was wise enough to only let Barney have one bullet for his gun.


Charles IngallsLittle House On The Prairie

Charles Engalls was a dad who worked hard to give his children a home and a set of values that they could carry with them through life.


Bill Davis – Family Affair

Remember this dad?  Bill Davis was the ultimate bachelor until three kids showed up at his door.  Who still has their Mrs. Beasley doll?


Steve Keaton – Family Ties

Steve Keaton was hip, he was now and he was environmentally friendly!  What’s not to love?


Tom Corbett – The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father

Tom Corbett had his hands full with his son Eddie, who was always trying to “set up” his dad with potential wives.


Ozzie Nelson – The Ozzie and Harriet Show

I loved Ozzie for his mellow, laid back approach to dealing with life and his two sons.  And, if we were lucky, Ricki would sing a tune or two.

Now, it’s impossible to list all my favorite television dads, but I do know that I spent many delightful hours watching them and enjoying the way they interacted with their kids.  So, to all the television “dads” out there, I salute you!

And, I want to wish all the real Dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!


My Little Ugly Duckling


Daily Prompt – 6/2/2013 – Silver Linings

It was June 22, 1970.

I was ready.  They wheeled me into the delivery room, poked me with needles and slapped a gas mask over my face.  It was time to deliver my baby.

A short time later, groggy and with no memory of the actual birth, I asked my husband where our baby was.  He smiled and said, “They’re cleaning our beautiful daughter up and then they’ll bring her in to meet us.”  He stood there, holding my hand and wiped tears from his eyes.

“It’s a girl?”

“Yes, honey.  And she’s beautiful.  I got to see her when they brought her to the nursery to get cleaned up.”

“She’s okay?”

“She’s gorgeous.  Looks just like you.”

A nurse appeared at the doorway, holding our bundle of joy that I had waited nine long months to meet.  She walked to the side of my bed, and laid my daughter in my left arm.  I turned my head and took my first look.

I gasped.  “Where’s my baby?” I shouted.  “This is not my baby..I ordered the Gerber baby.”

My husband and the nurse walked off to the side of the room and laughed.  I heard the nurse explain that I was still a little bit out of it with the gas I had sucked in.

Meanwhile, I stared at this being that they were pretending was my child.

She had thick, coarse black hair…a full head of it.  Her eyes were jammed shut and sported dagger like eyelashes that seemed to reach down to her nose.  Her dark, red face was scrunched up and all I could think of was that if you threw a sealskin coat on her, she could pass for an eighty year old Eskimo.

“Does she have her own snowshoes?” I murmured.

“What, honey?”  My husband returned to my side and grabbed my hand.

“Nothing.”  I’ve given birth to the ugly duckling, I thought, and prepared myself for the stunned stares of my relatives and friends when they saw my newborn child.

My tiny daughter flailed her clenched fists and then turned her head towards me.  I watched her as she smacked her lips and laid her cheek on my bare arm.  In that instant, I knew she was mine.  I felt the love flow from me towards this little being I had helped create and I was lost forever in the wonder of being this child’s mother.

She might not have the boys in the nursery lining up to sign her dance card; but to me, she was beautiful.

As time went by, my infant daughter grew into a beautiful baby..with creamy skin, deep azure blue eyes and silky brown hair.  She garnered oohs and ah’s from all who saw her.   Today, she is not only beautiful to look at, she has a beautiful heart.

But, if my little ugly duckling had never turned into the beautiful swan she is today, I would still think she was the most beautiful baby ever born.


In Remembrance – Bonnie Franklin 1942-2013

bonnie franklin


“Auntie Em..Auntie Em”

There is currently a Tornado Watch here in SW Florida.  I’m getting ready to jump on my bike and catch a ride on the first one that passes.  So, if you live in my area; keep an eye out..I might just be dropping in.



The Family With No Hugs


My father never hugged me.  I don’t know why.

My dad was an orphan at a very young age.  His mother died giving birth to a daughter and his “Da”  died of Hodgkin’s disease when my father was ten years old.  He and his sister were taken in by his mother’s sister.   This aunt and her husband doted on my father’s sister, dressed her in new clothes and spent hours parading her around the parks.  They barely tolerated my dad, dressed him in hand-me-downs and he was sent off to play in the parks by himself.

Sad, lonely and miserable, my dad ran away from the this uncaring home in New Jersey and set off to walk to Connecticut, where he knew he had other aunts and uncles from his father’s side.  He prayed one would take him in.  He was picked up by police within miles of his destination; a phone call to the aunt was made and she told them to deliver him to my father’s brother, who lived in Black Rock, Connecticut.  His uncle Tom, took pity on him and gave him shelter.  His uncle had no trouble convincing the aunt that my dad was better off with him; she gave no objections, at all.

My dad would often talk of his life with his Uncle Tom.  Tom and his wife were childless so they adopted my dad a year later.  He talked about the love and the respect he had for his new family and the joys of being raised with many other doting aunts and uncles.  He talked little about his life before them.

My mother never hugged me.  I don’t know why.

My Mom was raised in a middle income family in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Her parents both worked hard to give my mom and her brother all they needed.  But, her parents had an unhappy marriage.  My Grandpop was a philanderer while my Nana suffered the humiliation and pain silently, they were Catholic and divorce was out of the question.  My mom was brought up in a house filled with anger, resentment, and cold silences.  My mom’s brother escaped into the Navy and my mom escaped into marriage as soon as she could.

My Mom and Dad met during the end of World War II, in a bar.  They had been dating but a few short months when my mom became pregnant with my oldest brother.  They married and went on to have four children; I was the third.

My father was an alcoholic, a funny lovable drunk, who showered my mom with presents when he came home from a long night of drinking.  He had trouble keeping a job, so my mother was usually the main breadwinner in our house. We didn’t have much growing up but we kids had each other.  But, my parents didn’t hug and we kids didn’t hug, and I don’t know why.

I’m getting older now and I look back at my childhood with a grownup eye.  I realize that being brought up in a house with no hugs was the reason that I now hug everyone I love.  My children would feel my love when I hugged them off to school or before they went to sleep.  I treasured those hugs.

I’m with a man now that isn’t afraid to hug.  We hug before one of us leaves the house and we hug when one returns.  I feel complete when my arms are wrapped around a friend, my man or my kids and their families.  I especially hug my granddaughter, and with each hug I tell her how much I love her.  I now give and get all the hugs I never got growing up.

But, I still feel sad that my family never hugged me.  And, I don’t know why.


%d bloggers like this: