Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brightness Sailors Shine On...

Brightness is blowing by on an easterly wind, and we are happy to catch the breeze and sail onward. We are jumping right into the swelling tide of cheer and crashing up onto your shore. Hop onboard this little ship and hear our stories of memories past and people who have helped to shape our worlds. This ripple of fortune began in Singapore, carrying with it the whimsical spirit of a beautiful writer, Gueh Yanting, Claudine. Her latest children's picture book Brightness Sailors: Bit by Bit is heading your way! So, shine on sailors, and tend to the turbulent waters as they flood and flow, and carry us off...



~ Stop by Carry Us Off Books and download this new children's picture book as a gift for sharing in spirit of brightness! Also, you can dock at a few more sunny ports today on this cheery ride of inspirational stories. ~






John Haight, 2nd in on rt.
Jess: The story I would like to share with you is about my grandfather, John Haight. He was the chief of police in Ridgefield, CT, and an M.P. during WWII. He was also a family man, who helped my grandmother raise three boys. Pop was an awesome pop, and some of my fondest memories are of playing at his desk, pretending to write checks or using his typewriter- one of my favorite games. He told me stories, one of which was the inspiration for The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. Both he and my grandmother were great influences in my life, and I am very grateful to have known and loved them. 

John & Marion Haight

It was hard when Pop developed dementia. He was always such a steadfast figure in my family. But, as he aged and his mind began to deteriorate, he had to move into a home for his own safety. He couldn't remember who he was anymore. Most of the time, he believed that my grandmother was alive and that he was still the chief of police. Once in a while, he would come back to himself- that was the hardest time.


As his dementia progressed, he eventually forgot who his family was. Everyone, except for my dad, was a stranger to him. As sad as this made me, I decided that I could turn it around in a way that we could both be happy. One thing that he always complained about was the food at the home, and he was still capable of eating anything that he wanted. I knew that he loved fried clam bellies from a place called Cooks. So, every time that I went to visit him, I brought a huge plate of clam bellies and some fresh coleslaw with me. He may not have known that I was his granddaughter, but he sure was happy to see me when I came to visit! I loved watching his eyes light up and seeing the enjoyment on his face as he smacked down those greasy, delicious fried clams. It was a special feeling to have the power, though small and in the form of clams, to bring joy into his life, even if only for a few moments in time.

Remembering the spirits of my wonderful grandparents has been a real gift for me. Thank you, Claudine, for the inspiration to write this post  : )
~ Jess









Stephanie:  The last time I saw my Grandma Elaine we had some wonderful conversations. Some of our conversations were repeated over and over again over the course of my visit, because she would forget that we had already discussed them. I told her about my plane ride over twenty times, but I knew she was hearing it each time for the first time, so I tried to put the same detail and interest into my answers.  

Although I was in my late twenties and already working as a teacher, I could tell from the questions my grandma asked me that she wasn’t quite sure how old I was. Still, I felt lucky that she knew who I was. Seeing my grandma struggling to remember what was happening “now” and doing her best to hold conversations still tugs at my heart when I look back at our last visit. 

I do remember her warm smile, quiet way, and the love I felt from her during the time when her brain wasn’t as clear as it used to be. But just like my grandma remembering me when I was younger, I remember her best from the years before she started forgetting. Our walks to pick raspberries, her homemade doughnuts, the coffee she was always drinking, and her patience and peaceful way sparkle the brightest when I think back on our time together.  ~Stephanie






21 comments:

  1. What beautiful stories from both Jess and Stephanie. I think it's wonderful that both Pop and Grandma Elaine had loving patient relatives who cared about them enough to take them as they "are" and not try to make them try to remember who they "were." :-)

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    1. Hi Lexa, Thanks so much! Claudine from Carry Us Off Books had such a great idea to spread a little brightness around, and we were honored to participate. Thank you for popping over to share your bright thoughts with us! ~ Jess & Stephanie

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  2. Such wonderful memories to read about. And Claudine is one of my most fav people. Talk about brightness shining on our world.

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    1. Just read this. Thank you, Donna. You're one of my faves, too. :)

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    2. Hi Donna,
      Ours too! : ) Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts with us- it's always such a pleasure to hear from you : ) ~ Jess & Stephanie

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  3. My God.

    Thank you, Jess & Stephanie, for sharing your stories and pictures. I know this isn't an easy one to write because digging up the past could be painful for most. But you two ... you two have written about Pop and Grandma Elaine with such love.

    Jess, I remember your Pop's story from the comments you left last August. I remember he was the police chief, and that he loved clam bellies. It is special that such tiny food can bring on so much joy to a person, and to connect you both in such an honest & loving way. The stories he told, and you working away on the typewriter ~ destined to pass the stories on, you and Pop, in your own ways.

    Stephanie, Grandma Elaine sounds wonderful. We know they struggle to remember us, and the precious thing in your case was, your grandma DID know who you were despite everything else! She must have tried really hard. And she did it. Your walks to pick raspberries sound like a scene from an Enid Blyton story. The warmth and the seeming simplicity with a hint of something deeply wonderful in the air.

    Love this post lots. Really. Thanks so much.

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    1. Hi Claudine, It helped to brighten our day just being a part of this excellent idea - and thank you for all the kid words! It's always lovely to hear from you- sometimes it's like you live right next door- lol! Stephanie and I are sending you the warmest wishes : ) ~ Jess & Stephanie

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    2. If I do get to live next door to, or close by, you ladies in future, we'll have coffee and catchings-up at 3pm every weekday, okay?

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    3. Claudine- That sounds like a plan to us! How fun would that be?!? ~Stephanie and Jess

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  4. What a special post! The stories and pictures were amazing, especially how Jess's grandfather inspired her writing. Thanks for sharing!
    Cindy

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    1. Hi flashthecatblog, Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your kind words with us! ~ Jess & Stephanie

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  5. This is such a beautiful post. I wish I could my thoughts into words the way you both do. My dad had dementia. It was a heartbreaking time but reading this and understand that others went through the same kind of things helps. Big hugs for Claudine!

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    1. Hi Barbara, Isn't she amazing! What a wonderful idea Claudine had, to spread a little brightness. We truly appreciate you stopping by to read our stories : ) Thank you for sharing yours with us ~ Jess & Stephanie

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    2. Wait, wait, I think you guys give me way too much credit. The idea of spreading Brightness began with Jess. Love your stories so much, both Jess's and Stephanie's. And Barbara's, of course, I remember what you said about your dad and his dog, Jilly, at the hospital. Precious memories about precious people. {Barbara, your post on Brightness brought on such a pure smile. That umbrella of tiny white blooms was amazing!) Big hugs for you all. :)

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  6. Another inspiring post Jess & Stephanie! I understand so well having watched my beloved and intelligent Mother decline for several years with Alzheimer's. There are really not enough words in the dictionary to explain how utterly helpless and grieved that makes you feel, especially when their eyes tear up and they smile and hold your hand tight and you know there must be some recognition from the past.

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    1. Hi Anna Maria, Thank you so much for your kind words. Sharing our stories with each other can help to lighten the sadness. Always lovely to hear from you : ) ~ Jess & Stephanie

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    2. Hello Anna Maria, I'm sorry to hear about your mother. Those moments when they hold our hands and seemingly remember us are truly bittersweet.

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  7. Aw. This is an amazing post! Thank you both for sharing. You guys are amazing. Sigh. I loved reading it all :)

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    1. Hi Carina, Thanks so much for popping by! It's always a pleasure to hear from you : ) ~ Jess & Stephanie

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  8. Hi Jess

    What a touching story, thanks for sharing it with us.

    I'd also like to commment on your site - black and white background is amazing, everything just pops right out.

    Thanks for visiting my blog Jess and sorry to take so long to reply, your post for some reason was stuck in limbo and should have been showing as soon as you posted it.

    It is lovely to meet you and I look forward to more of your posts:)

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    1. Hi Michelle- Thanks so much for stopping by! I am glad you enjoyed my story about my pop. :)

      I appreciate your kind words about our blog and am happy to hear that you like the color scheme.

      No need to apologize! I can understand how comments can get stuck in limbo. I am glad we got to hear from you. :) ~Jess

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