Saturday, August 11, 2018


     Before our first granddaughter was born, my husband and I contemplated what we wanted her to call us. His choice was "Poppy", which is what he called his own grandfather. I called my grandmothers "Grandma", differentiated by their first names, Grandma Manya and Grandma Marian. But the name "Grandma" made me feel old, so I decided that Molly would call me "Grammy". We would be Grammy and Poppy.

     However, as has proved true over the years, Molly had her own idea. Somehow Grammy and Poppy became Abby and Bob.

    To me, it sounds like a comedy team. In some ways, being a grandparent is a little like being part of a comedy act. We often work together to make our granddaughters laugh and smile. Bah-da-da-bum.

     The first time I was really aware of it was a day when my husband and I were at the playground with Molly. She was probably about one and a half years old then. My husband had gone to the car to get the sand toys and Molly called to him.

     She said, "Bob! Bob!"

      Another grandma, who was standing near to me, gave me a funny look, as if to say, "You let your little granddaughter call her grandfather by his first name?"

     So I said to her, "Oh, his name isn't actually Bob."

     Which made absolutely no sense.

     Over the years, Molly has begun calling my husband Poppy, except when she is referring to both of us. Then we still are AbbyBob. The day we babysit each week is AbbyBob Day. And I had to laugh when we took her to her swimming lesson and she pointed us out to the teacher saying, "There's AbbyBob." I don't think the swim teacher had any idea what Molly was talking about.

     But I'm still Abby. I kind of like it. It's unique. I don't know if it will last, though. Our giggly little Hannah is fifteen months old now, and may have her own name ideas. Whatever it is, I hope the comedy act continues.


Friday, August 3, 2018


     A few evenings ago my husband was sorting through some old letters. One was from his grandmother, written in 1972, when he was just twenty years old. She was writing in response to his desire to have a career as a professional photographer. Grandma was trying to talk him out of it. She was worried that by thirty he would be a "Drifter".


     In some ways her points were understandable from her point of view. Her husband died young and she had survived the Depression mostly on her own, raising three children. She valued hard work and independence. She equated photography to a show business career, a field where there isn't room enough for everyone to make a living. Her solution was to work hard, even if it was a job one hated, put money aside and buy a house one day. That was about all one could expect.

     Whoa again.

     I found it surprising that she didn't offer a solution of education to find a career in a more lucrative field. I mostly found it surprising, and sad, that a twenty year old wouldn't be allowed to follow a dream, at least for a few years. In fact, my husband did become a professional photographer and has been successful at it all these years. He has worked hard.

     Drifter indeed.

     Of course, all this talk of Drifters made me think about Hank Williams, about whom I wrote a picture book biography. The people in Hank's bands changed over the years but all of his bands, starting from when he was very young, were called The Drifting Cowboys. I find so much romance in that name.

      Drifters and Hank made me also think of one of my favorite songs that he sings, "Lost Highway". "When I pass by, all the people say, just another guy on the lost highway". This is a sad song, a cautionary tale, about a man's life. I guess Grandma saw a lot of drifters in Oklahoma, where she was from, "rolling stones, all alone and lost".

      But her grandson certainly wasn't one of them.