Grandparents As Parents

Being a grandparent is one of the best things this side of heaven. Each grandparent thinks their grandchildren are the cutest in the world. Their grandchildren are the smartest, so much smarter than their children were at that age. When grandchildren come to visit, grandparents give them almost anything they desire. They let them do whatever their hearts can imagine and more. This is so true for the preteen grandchildren. As they grow into teenage years it’s another story. Grandparents love grandchildren because after all the fun they have, the food they have eaten, the playing they have done and much more they are packed up and sent home to their parents. Grandparents can then go back to whatever they want to do–they’ve earned it.

Some grandparents can’t send their grandchildren home to their parents because they have become the parents. There have always been grandparents that raised their grandchildren for some reason. There was always Big Mama Susie, Granny Louise, Paw Paw, Daddy James and more who took on the role of raising a grandchild.

In the state of Texas alone there are approximately 823,750 children under the age of 18 living in homes where the householders are grandparents or other relatives with the majority living with grandparents.

According to the Grandfacts State Fact Sheets there are over 315,000 grandparents that are raising grandchildren. Of those:

  • 67% are under the age 60
  • 62% are still in the workforce
  • 23% live in poverty
  • 23% have a disability
  • 26% are unmarried (grandchildren are living with a single parent)

These grandparents having raised their children have once again taken on the responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of a home, schedules, meals, homework, play dates and more. These items may seem simple, but homework is not the same as it was a generation ago. Years ago play dates consisted of going outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood. There was no scheduling of activities. Birthday parties consisted of cake, punch and a few games in the backyard or den. There was no social media, cell phones and internet. In addition to time, the majority of these things carry a monetary component.

The grandparents who are raising their grandchildren now have to redo their lives, their dreams and much more. They have to give up their independence and start all over again. Their finances will ultimately take a hit, and retirement may not be in the picture in the near future. That dream of finally starting their own business has again become just a dream.

All of this is not to say that grandparents do not cherish their grandchildren, it’s just that their lives or at least the idea of what their lives should look like at this stage of life will have to change. Their new normal is not the normal they day dreamed about.

There are programs that will assist the grandparents in their new role as primary parents. At my church a senior group meets once a month to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of raising grandchildren when you thought you would only see them on the weekends. It allows the grandparents to learn from others who are in similar situations, and to give guidance to those that need it .

In every state there are organizations that will assist those that are raising children for the second time. AARP has great information in the Grandfacts sheets for the United States and for your state. There are local programs that can assist also.

Grandparents may need a little help when raising grandchildren. Those that take on this task are indeed “grand”. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and just in case you didn’t know my grandchild is the cutest and smartest.

An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman Power

March is National Women’s History Month. A month that honors women who have made a difference, women who are inspirational, women who are strong–you know them.  There will be those names that we all have heard and admire, but there are many women who no one but their families and communities will ever know of.

These women may have been in the military, marched for the civil rights of all.  They may have been your teacher, your mother, the lady who lived next door or just the nice sales lady who always treated you with respect even though she knew you would not be buying.

This month is in honor of that teacher that kept you from recess to help you with your math.  It’s honoring your grandmother who worked so hard–working jobs that you swore you would never do, and she never wanted you to do.

This month is to honor “all women”– the women who were influential in your life.  Believe it or not, the celebration of Women’s History Month on a smaller scale started in 1911.  It gained national recognition in 1975. You can see the history of Women’s History Month by clicking The History of Women’s History Month.

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International Women’s Day

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Check your local areas for events honoring women this month.

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Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Honor a woman today.

 

 

Honoring Our Mothers

If you were to ask just about anyone to tell who was their first love, most would say it was their mother.  Mother’s were the first faces that we gazed our eyes upon.  They were the first ones that held us close and even sang to us.  When we gave them that first smile, they were the ones that had an even bigger smile. They were the ones that tried to protect us from harm.

Over the years they have had many names, mother, mom, mama, madea and so many more.  Have you ever noticed that the biggest defensive lineman when given a chance to say a word always tells his mother hello.  It’s just something about the word “mother”.

Some of you are blessed that your mother is still with you, and some of us know the feeling that they are no longer here with us. This slide show is for all the moms, mothers, mamas, madeas and more.  Each year I run the same article about my mother–Mrs. Ruby Dean Square Cooper.  This year I’ve added some of your mother’s pictures.  I hope you enjoy. 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Everything was done in the kitchen of our home. When were younger, we practiced our reading at the kitchen table. Mama would be cooking, and we would be reading out loud. I still wonder how she knew the words before we did. As we continued our education even college homework would be done at that table.

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When my sister and I did our 4-H projects, the kitchen table became our workshop with everything from sewing machines to podiums. Mama was a leader in our 4-H club so we practiced everything there.

I remember the day we got a new dishwasher. Everyone was excited, even me. I had turned about 12 and thought that making pretend milkshakes in the soapy water was fun. Little did I know that I would forever be the dishwasher in our family. I remember that I would wash and mama would dry while my sister did her homework at the table. If my dad was home from work, he would be watching the Huntley Brinkley report while we did the dishes. My brother got out of washing dishes because mama believed that cleanliness was indeed next to Godliness. I remember the day that he popped me on the behind with the towel that he was drying the dishes with; it was the last time he was allowed to do anything in the kitchen except eat.

The smell of cooking was always prevalent in our kitchen even though both my parents worked full-time as educators. Mama had been a home economics major in college so everything was homemade from potato chips, wonderful cakes and pies and all that was in between.

One of my fondest memories is when my mother became my friend. She drank coffee every morning and some evenings at the kitchen table. I had always drank a milking cup of coffee as a child. One Saturday as she sat at the kitchen table reading the paper, I joined her for what would become “our time”. For the rest of her life, if I was home, I would make coffee and we would talk, sometimes our neighbors Miss Callie and Miss Adell would join us. Over the years to come at that table, we talked about high school graduation, going off to college, the death of daddy, how would she cope, my sister going off to college–mama in the house alone. My husband even asked her for my hand in marriage at the kitchen table. Grandchildren learned what the word “no” really meant at that table.

As I think back over these times, it is amazing that people now have to have libraries, great rooms, offices, etc., to do different activities. Mama did it all at the kitchen table.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who solve all the problems of today at the kitchen table. Remember, “thisisyourbestyear”. 

This song is what all mothers wish for their children as their first protector!

In Dark Times

On my way out of the door to do the Toro Dash 5k my mentor, my friend, my sister called and told me her son was gone. He had died. There are no words to express my feelings.  When my sorority sister arrived to go to the race we decided to go instead to my friend. As a woman of a certain age and a Christian, I know that death will come to all, but my heart is full of sorrow for my dear friend in the loss of her first born.  We must praise God even in the dark times. To God Be The Glory!

Who Can Be Sick?

When the girls were small, and I stayed home from work because of illness they somehow were ill too. The girls are on their own now with busy lives. Last Friday I was ill and was prescribed meds. Well guess who else decided they would be ill–hubby. No, he does not have my illness, he is just ill. I got up and made the sick man breakfast–appetite is still good. I then checked my work email. I am going to work. It is too much work to be sick. Love that man.

Remember, thisisyourbestyear.