Bean About Town (the blog)

Just another weblog

How Autocorrect Improved My Marriage June 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 9:17 pm

Like most people on the cusp of the gen x/millennial age groups, I’m always a tiny bit behind when it comes to the newest technological trends. I mean, to be fair, I’m still young enough to be somewhat hip. However, I was definitely not first in line for my new snapchat obsession. It was my 19-year-old niece, solidly in the millennial generation, that lit that particular fire for me.

On the other hand, I have a tacitly Gen X hatred for cutesie acronyms, especially when they’re spoken like words, and I am NOT into the lumbersexual thing. Not at all.
That said, it took me a minute to discover that my iPhone could be programmed to fill out text for me when I only typed acronyms. I quickly changed “BRT” to say “be right there,” “UOK” to say “Are you okay,” and “ITC” to say “in the car,” signaling that I shouldn’t be texting at all in that moment. My mind lit up with all the conveniences I could afford myself. How could I have all the ease of the annoying millennial text-speak shorthand without actually looking like an idiot? What phrases do I use most often that I could shorten to just a few key strokes?
The first phrase that popped into my mind was one I often send to my husband; “I love you.”
I mulled this one over for a minute, wondering if I shouldn’t force myself to type it out, to give it the gravity it deserves. Of course, the prevailing idea was that of expedience, but should “I love you” be something said expediently?
This gave me pause. (Yes, I know I’m a total nerd for even thinking this way, but I happily admit to my myriad quirks. They make me who I am.)
So, I decided. Anything that makes “I love you” easier to say as often as possible can only be a positive thing, right? Right.
Uh oh. Another issue. How do I punctuate it?
There are times when I’m sad or upset or just not particularly energetic when a period would suffice at the end of “I love you.” However, there are other times when I’m so bursting at the seams with admiration for my husband that nothing short of an exclamation point will do.
So, I decided to go with the latter. I chose the exclamation point because whatever my mood, whatever circumstances exist, whatever the tone of my communications in that moment might be, my love for my husband can never be overstated.
And I noticed a change. The, albeit sometimes unexpected, energy of my professions always got a response. What was beginning as a somewhat bland or even morose text conversation would be instantly turned around by the assault of affection I hurled at my husband. He was pelted with giddy, squealing, glitter-painted love every time I typed the words and it made an impact- and that impact was never EVER misplaced.
I realized that holding back, putting a period at the end of “I love you,” instead of an exclamation point was not ever the right move in my marriage. Simply saying it, tossing it as a soft lob to the one who is mine for life is simply never enough. I want to scream it. I want to squeal my love for him every time I express it because he deserves it. He earned it. He inspires it. And I should never let him forget it, even in a quick text.
“I love you!” can never be overstated when you really mean it.


For Dad December 4, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 7:51 pm

I believe it is possible to love someone so much that your feelings color the whole world around you.
I see my children in the faces of every kid that walks by.
I feel my husband’s devotion in every love story I hear.
My heart readies for battle with every trial a friend faces.
Every joke brings me back to the dinner table with my siblings.
Great works of literature are read to me in my mother’s voice.
And today-
Today, every falling leaf whispers my father’s name. Every ray of sunshine lights up like his smile. Every song is one he used to dance to.
Today, I feel him everywhere. In everything.
And it hurts.
And it heals.
And I smile and cry at once because you cannot experience this much pain over losing someone you didn’t love to the edges of the earth.
The tears are hot and sting my eyes, but they are all dripping jewels of gratitude.
Damn, I got a good one. A dad it’s this hard to grieve.
I am one of the lucky ones.
I had a father that loved me so much that his absence is a black hole in my center.
And thank God. It was worth every crushing minute.
I’d do it all again.


Starting 2015 with another letter to the Kidlets. February 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 12:20 pm

Hi, kidlets!
It’s January 26th, 2015 and I wanted to write you an update on how amazing life is being your mom.
Things are a little stressful right now because I’m preparing for the New York Bar Exam and it’s a little under a month away. So, I spend all day with you two until Daddy gets home, then I leave right away to study into the night. By the time I’m finished, you guys are snoozing in bed and, if all went as planned, have been for a few hours. That means I haven’t been able to have any family dinners with you or kiss you goodnight for a while, which makes me very sad. However, this is just temporary. I’m working hard so I can give you guys a great life. Hopefully you’ll understand someday. As of now, you don’t seem to know the difference, so that makes things easier on me. I miss you, though!!! Terribly!!
Lily- You are currently two years and five months old. You go through a lot of phases, just like any other two-year-old. One day you’re snuggly and clingy; another day you’re independent and spirited. I never know what I’m gonna get! You just continually amaze me! You are so beautiful in every way: the way you’re affectionate with Jack, the way you all-of-a-sudden say a new word, the way you imitate your dad and me (which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good 😉 ), the way you are smart enough to escape the play yard…. Oh my gosh, you are so awesome! Your curls are really coming out and I think you’re the most gorgeous girl on the planet! You’re tall and broad just like me and your eyes smile just like your daddy. My gosh- I think you got the best of both of us. We are so blessed to have you.
You’re currently a student (three days a week) at Saint Catherine’s Preschool in Mrs. Theresa and Mrs. Pamela’s class. You love school and you bring us beautiful art almost daily. 🙂 Everybody who meets you is just enchanted by you! You’re easily one of the school’s favorite kiddos.
Jack- My sweet little baby isn’t so little anymore! You’re growing so fast! You’re ten months old and only ten pounds lighter than your sister!!! Holy smokes!! Your hair is still fine and straight, but it won’t be long before we find out if you got your dad’s thick, dark, straight hair or my fine, light, curly hair. Oh my gosh, baby boy, you’re so handsome! You’re Shertenlieb all over and look very much like my father, Bub.
You’re just now starting to stand on your own. You’ll let go of support for a couple seconds before you crash and you’re so proud of yourself! You are all smiles, you have the best laugh, and BOY- you’ll eat ANYTHING! You eat stuff your sister won’t eat! You’re one brave boy!
One of the things I cherish the most about you at this age is that you’re a bit of a Mommy’s boy. Sometimes, no one else will do and I am just fiiiiine with that! :):) It melts my heart. You have the sweetest mild temperament and my favorite time of day is when I get to snuggle up under a blanket with you in the big recliner. I could do that all day long!!
Kiddos, you guys are the light of my life. We’re all being challenged a bit right now, but we’ll get through it together. You guys are great motivation to succeed. I want nothing more than to give you guys a wonderful, adventurous life. Every time I leave the house to go study for the night, you guys give me hugs and kisses and give me all the fuel I need to get through the rest of the day.
I love you both more than I can express. You and your daddy are my gifts from God. I’m so thankful for you.




Another Letter To My Kids June 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 2:30 pm

Dearest Lily and Jack,

            You guys are both still too young to understand the things I want to say to you, so I figured I’d write them down so you can read them when you are old enough.

            I want you both to know how loved you are. This isn’t some hallmark card version of love or a word that gets thrown around to describe how we feel about pizza or puppies or opera. I really, truly, love you. It’s the kind of love that accepts all your faults and truly sees who you are.  It is all-encompassing, blinding, never-ending, and unconditional. Whatever you do, whoever you become, never EVER forget that your mommy loves you. Because I will. No matter what.

            I also want you both to know how beautiful you are. Lily, your big, blue eyes and bouncing curls are just the most charming combo I’ve ever seen. Jack, your sweet smile, strong cleft chin, and adorable little ears that stick out just a little bit make you the cutest, and eventually the handsomest guy I’ve ever seen (next to your daddy.) J

These things are important because they are part of WHO you are, not just WHAT you are. The greatest beauty you possess lies in your incandescent souls.  Jack, you are only three months old as I write this, but you are already an absolute joy. Your smile and your laugh absolutely melt my heart. You’re also a bit of a mommy’s boy, always wanting snuggles and to take your naps on my tummy. Your sweetness and easy-going nature are already evident. I am absolute putty in your tiny little hands. Lily, my gosh! My stunning little girl! You are SO brave and your spirit has such fire in it.  You are constantly on the go, always curious, always investigating things. You’re one busy little bee. You’re also so funny! You know just how to make Daddy and me laugh until our sides hurt! You do this squinty-eyed stare sometimes- it looks so serious – but you’re joking around starting staring contests. J Actually, just yesterday, you and your daddy were tackling me in the play yard and giving me simultaneous belly bloopers. My stomach muscles are still sore from laughing.

The most important thing I want to tell you is that I am here for you. You can say anything to me. I can’t promise I won’t be a little taken aback by what you say, but I can promise that I will respond thoughtfully and with love. No matter what you’re thinking, what kind of trouble you’re in, what kind of issue you’re having, I want to be your FIRST line of defense. I want to be the first person you think of approaching. I want to know EVERYTHING about you, the good, the bad, the confusing. I want to know. I want to be there. I want to help you. NOTHING YOU CAN DO OR SAY TO ME WILL EVER MAKE ME STOP LOVING YOU.  Let me repeat that. NOTHING YOU CAN EVER DO OR SAY TO ME WILL MAKE ME STOP LOVING YOU. I want, more than anything, for you to feel free to be who you are, exactly who you are, with me. I want my presence to be your safe place, where you can truly be honest and relax in your own skin. I promise, even if I’m not always great at communicating it, that is my ultimate goal. I am always on your team. I will always put you first.

These things said, I have to admit that I’m not perfect. I never will be. Just because I’m your mom doesn’t mean I know everything or that I’m always right. I’m going to make mistakes, but I’ll try to be strong enough to realize them, apologize, and make them right. Please know that the sentiments I’ve expressed in this letter are the TRUTH. THIS is the truth. Not my stressed snippiness, not my momentary disappointment, not my busy oversight… this. The truth is I love you, you are beautiful, and I am here for you.

I’ll do my best to make sure you never forget these things.



All the love in the world,




A Letter to My Son, Jack January 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 10:42 pm

My sweet baby Jack,

            I wrote a letter like this to your sister while I was pregnant with her so I didn’t forget to tell her what she was like before she was born. Hopefully you enjoy this little insight to your life before your life. J

            Oh, darling boy, you are so loved. Your dad and I were so excited to find out we were having you! We’re really enjoying raising your sister and now we get to see what having a son is all about (well, I do. Your dad raised Justin already).

            We started to suspect I was pregnant actually a few weeks before I was. It seems that my body was just ready to carry you. I found myself dreaming about being pregnant, feeling phantom kicks, missing the feeling (well, the good feelings).  My senses started acting up like I was pregnant. I would smell weird things, stuff tasted funny, I was emotional. My body was gearing up for your arrival!

            So, I’d been taking pregnancy tests for a few weeks wondering what was up with my bod going crazy. Your dad and Justin teased me incessantly every time I had something that could come anywhere close to being a pregnancy symptom. “I don’t like the taste of this rice.” “You’re pregnant.” It was crazy. J The funny thing is, I had my gallbladder removed supposedly after I was pregnant and they gave me a test before the surgery that came up negative! Weird, huh?

            Well, there was one day after the surgery where I was just sure I had to be pregnant.  My body was giving me way too many signals to ignore. So, I sent your dad to the store for a test (I’d used all the ones we had! HA!) and waited for him to return home. Of course, I’d taken numerous ones in the past weeks that all came out negative and I assumed that this one would be no different. However, I went upstairs, took the test, and VOILA! A positive. J I came down the stairs with this look on my face… like a happy holy-crap kinda look… and Justin said, “WELL? You’re pregnant, aren’t you? She’s pregnant. She’s totally pregnant.” Your dad looked at me with anticipation in his eyes.

            I told Lily in her letter that moments like this are among those that you hope you’ll come up with something really eloquent and memorable to say and that I failed miserably when telling your dad I was pregnant with her. I said, “So, we’re gonna have a baby?” and it was totally a question. Well… I didn’t do much better this time. Turns out practice doesn’t make perfect.

            I said, “Well, are you ready for another one?” What’s with the questions, Becky? Really….

            Again, your dad didn’t disappoint with his reaction. He jumped out of his chair, took me in his arms, and kissed me a bajillion times while we both cried with joy. We were so so happy to know you were on your way.

            Then, the “oh crap” set in. Being a parent of one is scary enough, but being a parent of two is really really intimidating. On top of that, I was just about to start getting my LLM at Emory Law, an awesome school, and we weren’t in the greatest financial shape. Your dad was working full time, around the clock, and busting his behind to provide for the family. However, with us living so far from school and work and the gas prices being what they were, our bank accounts would drain down to zero more often than we’d like to admit. Plus, I had mounting student loan debt, the expensive bar exam ahead, and we had credit cards to pay off. Needless to say, as happy as we were, we panicked.

            However, your dad and I sat down and figured out whatever we could figure out. Sometimes the future is uncertain and that is scary, but that doesn’t mean that you should let it dull your joy over the great things in your life. We got ourselves a plan, implemented the plan as best we could, had faith, and sat back to enjoy the fact that we had a new beautiful blessing coming our way. We are so lucky to have you. You and your sister make every ounce of hard work we’ve ever done, every tear we’ve ever cried, every worry that wrinkled our foreheads, every second of stress and anxiety, every moment of uncertainty worth it a million times over.  I am so proud to be your mommy.

            So, here we are. I’m 26 weeks pregnant with you and we were ecstatic to find out you are a little boy! Your name, John Whitton, comes from your papa, John, and Bub, whose middle name is Whitton. We’re gonna call you Jack, though, so we don’t have to say “which John?” J  You move around a ton, though not quite as forcefully as your sister did. She used to tapdance on my insides, where you’re more of a barrel roller. According to what I feel and we’ve seen in your ultrasounds, you’re kind of a sleepy little guy, not really doing much unnecessary moving. You also hate it when I lie on my left side. I’m not sure why, but you beat me up when I do!

            As far as weird cravings or aversions, I haven’t had too many other than not being all that into meat.  I crave cheese a lot, which is kinda odd. Mac and cheese, pizza, garlic bread with cheese, brie on toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, lasagna…  OH! I forgot! You LOVE sausage! I crave sausage like crazy, mainly on breakfast sandwiches. Sometimes with syrup. J Oh my gosh, the smell of bacon or fish make me so sick… but I can eat them if I hold my nose.  Weird, huh? The rest of my cravings are usually momentary. I’ll crave something for a couple of days and it’ll pass. Sausage and cheese are the only ones that have really stuck around so far. I also have ZERO interest in steak or chicken. Just pork, really! So strange.  My appetite seems to swing to extremes. Either I can hardly eat at all or I’m hungry all day.

            Health-wise, things have been fine with you. We’ve had a few scares. It seems that my blood contains this antibody against a blood enzyme called Little C. If your blood contains the antigen, my antibody could start attacking your blood cells and that could be nasty. So far, so good, though. There has been no change in the antibody level. Other than my hair breaking off and my hips killing me, everything is absolutely perfect.

            We can’t wait to meet you, my darling son. You are such a blessing to us and we plan on letting you know that every day of your life. You’re gonna love your big sister. She’s a character. J


Until we meet, more love than you know,




A letter to my daughter, Liliahoku. May 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 7:28 pm

My dearest Liliahoku,

As I was sitting here, I realized that the day might come that I forget all the little and beautiful details about what it was like to be pregnant with you. I’m writing you this letter, so when that day does come, you’ll be able to tell me all about it. I hope you enjoy hearing about who you were before you were even born. I do feel like I know you already, but I also know that I can’t wait to see the woman you are going to become. (You just kicked me, by the way. BOY, you’re strong!)

I often wonder if you’ll become a dancer, because you are certainly one now. I joke with my friends that you like to tap dance on my insides, spreading your limbs out as far as they can stretch and moving around as gracefully as you can in such a small space. I can tell that you’re beautiful already.

Right now, I’m only a few days from being six months pregnant with you and it has been the roller-coaster ride of a lifetime, especially in light of the fact that I’m currently in my second year of law school. We weren’t expecting you until I finished, but it seems you and God just didn’t want us to wait any longer. Despite the fact that things didn’t happen exactly the way your dad and I planned them, I have absolutely no regrets or reservations. God gave you to us right on time.

Frankly, I was worried about being able to have you at all. Before becoming pregnant with you, I had two undiagnosed and complete miscarriages. They both happened so quickly, that by the time I figured out what was going on, it was too late for the doctor to help or even diagnose. I guess my body means business when it knows what it wants. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons my pregnancy with you has been as great as it has. As I said, you were a most welcome and complete surprise.

Okay, so I know most people don’t want to hear about how or when they were conceived, but I feel like your circumstances are so special, that I have to share. I promise to spare you the details. J

You were conceived in early December 2011. Your father and I were in Long Island, New York for the funeral of your Great Grandma Gertrude Shertenlieb, Bub’s mother and my last living grandparent.  I know it seems so strange to be conceived while out of town for a funeral, but I truly feel like Grandma Gertrude left you as a parting gift to us all. You see, for most of my life, Grandma Gertrude and I didn’t really get along. However, close to the end of her life, we became very close, speaking at least once a week. I’m so grateful for that, I can’t even tell you. I tell you this because I feel like you and Grandma Gertrude have a very special connection. You made your entrance on this earth just as we buried Grandma Gertrude in it. This fact means a lot to my whole family and Gummy even started to call you “Grandma’s Baby.” I promise to tell you everything I know about Grandma Gertrude and all of your great grandparents whenever you’re ready.

The day we flew back from New York, I got horribly sick. I slept on the entire flight home, barely drove back to our home in Pembroke Pines from Fort Lauderdale Airport, and threw up most of the night. Your dad was also pretty sick so I never thought for a second to check if I was pregnant.  We were both convinced we had food poisoning.

A few days later, we went back to Atlanta for the holidays and I just remember being so tired and so hungry all the time. I swear, I couldn’t get enough food! I was starving!  On top of that, I was passing up opportunities to go out for late nights with my girlfriends because I was too tired to stay out late (this is not like me AT ALL). The whole trip was kind of a haze of hormones, hunger, and fatigue. Anyway, a couple of days after ringing in the new year, we returned to Pembroke Pines so I could prepare for the upcoming second semester of my second year in law school.

Sitting on the couch with your dad, I realized that my ladies time was late by a week or so. Granted, I’d had to use birth control pills from the time I was thirteen to regulate my cycle and had recently stopped taking them due to the miscarriages, so I didn’t think much of it. However, I (very nonchalantly, by the way) decided to take a pregnancy test. I’d taken so many over the course of our marriage that your dad and I really didn’t get excited or even pay much mind to the idea. So, there I went into the bathroom, took the test, played on my phone for three minutes, and then took a look.


                I immediately started to pace the bathroom. I always had these big plans about how to tell your father we were expecting when that day came, but I was totally unprepared for the day to be right then. I burst into tears of joy and I knew any charade I could have planned was moot.  Your father always knows when I’ve been crying and I wasn’t going to be able to hide it from him. It’s very hard to keep secrets from your dad, even when it is just to surprise him with something nice. I just can’t lie to him!!

So, I went back into the living room where your dad was playing a video game and stood at the door. He said, “you okay?” without even looking up, expecting to hear that I was disappointed by another negative result. All I could muster at first was, “Ummmmm.” Finally, your dad looked at me and said, “What? Are you all right?”

This is one of those moments in life that you hope you’ll find the right words, that you’ll say something so profound, so eloquent, that it will live like a shining moment in your memory forever.

“Uh…. So, we’re gonna have a baby?”

Yup. That was it. Those were the words that practically fell out of my mouth, and they totally sounded like a question.

I guess I broke the news credibly enough because your father literally jumped over the coffee table to get to me. He took me in his arms and we both bawled our eyes out. The day we’d been dreaming of had finally come. It was for real. You were on your way and our lives would never be the same.

The next few days were a mix of ecstasy, numbness, and total freak out. Books were purchased and read, vitamins were shoved down my throat, and all traces of lunch meat and chemical products were eradicated from the apartment.  We were having a baby. Holy smokes!

Very quickly, your dad became an expert on all things pregnancy. He knew exactly what vitamins I needed and why, which creams were the best to use for stretch marks, and what foods to seek out and avoid. On the flip side, it seemed almost immediately that the morning sickness hit me like a mack truck. All day, every day, nausea and vomiting. The first three months of my pregnancy with you were the worst three of my life, health wise. I could barely keep saltine crackers down and the smell of onions, coffee, or any meat would send me running. On top of all of this, I had what experts call “pregnancy fog” where I could hardly remember anything. None of these symptoms were great for a law student entrenched in one of the hardest semesters of her law school career.  I’m just thankful I passed!

Eventually, we were ready to share the news with your grandparents. Gummy and Bub were coming to visit for a week or so and we wanted to take the opportunity to tell them in person. They came over to our new apartment and I pretended we were celebrating Bub’s birthday that had just passed. I had crackers and veggies laid out with party hats and plates to round out the ruse. Finally, we gave Bub his gift, which was a scrapbook called “The Book of 8.” It counted down their grandchildren from Justin at number one to Max at number seven, who was the youngest until you. Number eight, of course, was a picture of the positive pregnancy test and your expected due date.

Gummy immediately cheered and Bub went white like a sheet. I really thought he was going to pass out! Imagine, his youngest baby girl was going to have a baby. That’s a lot to process for a dad. Hugs went all around and everyone teared up with happiness. You made everybody’s day. We toasted you at dinner that night and eagerly discussed the future.

We told Nana and Papa over the phone and they were just thrilled. The best part is, we found out your gender on Nana’s birthday and were able to give her the announcement as a gift. J

Since the end of the first trimester, you’ve been a dream. Granted, you’re very strong and you kick me really hard sometimes, but I’m glad to feel how healthy you are. Your dad and I went to Disney World for our “babymoon” and you were just great on that trip. Since then, other than the aches and pains of carrying another person inside of you, everything has been perfect.

You are already so loved, my darling daughter. Your dad and I haven’t even gotten to see your sweet face or hold your beautiful hands and we are completely enamored with you. We simply cannot wait to meet you and welcome you into our ohana (that means family in Hawaiian, the same language as your name, Liliahoku). We both pray every day that we will be the parents you deserve and that you will live as happy and wonderful a life as this world can afford you. We’re not perfect, never will be, but we will always have perfect love for you.

Until the day we finally meet….




In Memoriam October 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — DJBean @ 6:48 pm

My grandmother, Gertrude Shertenlieb, passed away this morning at 6:15. I’ve always been a writer, so it was no surprise that I immediately wanted to sit down and get to typing up a memorial for her. However, as I started going over my plan in my head, I realized that I’m not the best candidate for immortalizing this amazing woman. I am vastly underqualified. However, I can write about what I know and, in Grandma’s honor, be truthful to her memory.
My grandmother and I didn’t know each other very well. There were numerous reasons for this that seemed perfectly legitimate during her lifetime, none of which mean a damn thing anymore. Therefore, I won’t waste my time talking about what doesn’t matter.
Justifications aside, I’m telling the whole truth here. Grandma and I didn’t have much of a relationship for most of my life. I mean, I was around her a lot (and she always sent me birthday cards featuring her beautiful penmanship), but we didn’t spend much time alone together and certainly didn’t swap warm fuzzies very often.  I also never got to hear much of her story. I’ve got little flashes here and there, a compilation of things my father and other family members have told me, but I missed out on hearing the star’s first-hand narration.

All of these things I sorely regret. All of the missed opportunities, lost time…. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over all of that. However, in the last few months of her life, my grandmother taught me the greatest lesson I have ever learned; Don’t let things lie.
As I was leaving Atlanta to go back to law school this semester, God granted me the inspiration to fix this long-standing dysfunction between my grandmother and me. Instead of doing what I always did, letting things go, maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat, pretending everything was fine, I called her and addressed the situation.
Let me just say, this is WAY out of character for me. Usually, if I do stand up for myself, it is done out of pure heat of passion. I very seldom contemplate and instigate conflict with clear-headed purpose.
So, I called Grandma and we hashed it out. It was a long, emotional, and very honest talk. I think I may have shocked her a little bit because she’d never heard me speak  like an adult before. I wasn’t placating or patronizing her. I took responsibility for my hand in the problem, explaining that I’m not used to bucking authority and making demands. (You see,  I’ve always been kind of a “yes man,” with her and this was the first time I was breaking out of that mold.) Where I thought I would meet with resistance, I felt Grandma begin to respect me as a woman. It was the first time she saw me as something other than a spoiled child. It’s no wonder that her perception was wrong. I kept playing the role, waiting for her permission to act like a grown-up. Turns out, she was waiting for me to change her mind with my behavior toward her.
At the end of this very difficult conversation, we made a pact with each other; to start acting like grandmother and granddaughter. To be friends. To be family…and darned if we didn’t keep up our ends of the bargain.
From that point on, I spoke to my grandmother at least once a week. We called each other to shoot the breeze or for no reason at all. I knew what was going on in her life, down to what she had for dinner and the new pants she just bought. Likewise, she heard all about my tedious research and papers and presentations. Even if she wasn’t interested, she acted like she was, and I’ve gotta admit that it felt really good.
Because God gave me the guts to stand up and change things, I got my grandmother back for the last three months of her life. Thank you, Jesus.
Through all of this, Grandma taught me that life-changing lesson. Don’t let it lie. Even if you might make it worse, stand up change things. Be a fool for it. Be ridiculed for it. Be labeled an instigator or a drama queen. Take all of these chances in stride and change things, because nothing compares to the hurt of knowing it could have been different if you had only spoken the truth. I should know. I waited almost 29 years to take control of my relationship with Grandma and I would give anything to get that time back.
I admit, part of me is really angry that this unification didn’t happen sooner. However, the vast majority of me is unbelievably thankful it happened at all.
I can’t go back and change the time I lost with Grandma, but I can share our story in hopes of inspiring a few phone calls. Forget grudges. Forget pride. Forget the reasons not to fix it. None of that’s worth beans when you’re gone.
One of my friends recently said something to me that was very comforting. She said, “We are all flowers in God’s garden.” I love that idea. We start as little seeds that have to push through our own shells. Then, we struggle through the dirt and grow to give glory to God with the help of His healing sunshine.  We withstand the trying and perfecting forces of rain and bees and wind. We persevere until we are cut down and brought into the Father’s house where a special place at His table awaits us.  There, He delights in us, arranges us with those that went before us, and we become a sweet addition to His home. Oh man, what a nice thought.  I bet Grandma looked like the most beautiful bloom.
So, here’s to my last surviving grandparent, finally reunited with her family. Now, she can take her place beside her beloved, Fred, who has been saving her a seat under the apple tree. Her struggle is complete and she has been brought into the Father’s house.
Thanks for everything you have taught me, Grandma; to be strong, to be smart, and to never let it lie.
In memory of Gertrude Mildred Shertenlieb, my grandmother for 29 years, my friend for three months, and my inspiration forever.