Posts Tagged ‘Grandparent’

When Clay Hudson Favell, aka Great Grandpa Hudson, married my Mother-in-Law Ada 40 years ago, we were all at the wedding! And for once, Hudson wasn’t the officiant. Long before anybody could become certified to marry people via the internet, he was the go-to officiant for half of our friends and family. Our tiny Bride was the flower girl at Ada and Hudson’s parking lot wedding, who would grow up to marry her Groom in an apple orchard with Hudson under the chuppah; blessing the new couple with his grand daughter Violet spreading flowers at their feet.

How did a lapsed Southern Baptist pastor, a widower who had built hospitals in Ghana during his missionary days and fought in the South Pacific during WWII, end up marrying a divorced Brooklyn Jewish marriage and family counselor in NJ?

Easy! He was smitten from the moment he saw her. Hudson was the moon to Ada’s sun. He was kind, steadfast, thoughtful, and he adored her. We called him the Poughkeepsie Gypsy since he would drive from NY every week just to see her. Ada told me he doesn’t get flustered, and he keeps his promises. He always loved it when their children and grandchildren would descend on their home for Jewish holidays or just for a swim in the pool.

When Hudson lost his first born daughter, Louanna, in a car accident, Ada was there to help. And later when Ada lost her second born son, Richard, they joined that horrific club together – the one where parents have lost a child. By that time they had created a counseling business of their own, one where pastoral counseling and family therapy could blend seamlessly.

As Hudson began to retire his therapy practice, he started carving totem poles. This is how his son Charles described it –

“Hudson was an incredibly talented artist. His specialty was woodworking. He made one of a kind pieces of wood art on his lathe. Ranging from wooden tables and table legs to toys, including figurines of people that would be incorporated in family therapy sessions. Hudson was immensely talented with a chisel as well, creating countless works of art by hand. After a trip to Alaska with Ada, inspired by the totem poles he saw and learned about, Hudson taught himself how to carve story poles. He created numerous story poles that artistically described the stories of his life, and life with Ada.” 


Ada and Hudson surrounded themselves with his totem poles, and soon he was getting commissions. Every Christmas we’d wonder what type of creative carving he would deliver. A mobile of a seagull one year, a bagel cutting block another. I’m not even sure how many oatmeal ladles I have that were hand-carved. Of course our cardinal totem pole, with Jewish and Irish symbols, is our favorite.

He was the only grandfather my children have ever known. I like to think he taught them the art of patience, he brought a southern sensibility to his northern family. A friend on Facebook said he was “…a quiet force of nature and wisdom.” The Rocker describes his grandfather like this:

“hudson was an archetype of post-war tough, a navy veteran with an impeccable work ethic, a gravelly southern drawl and minimalism of words. the quiet contemplative yin to my grandma’s firecracker yang. but he also subverted a lot of the expectations of the archetype. he was deeply emotionally intelligent, a professional therapist; he was an artist and a master woodcarver, his home was covered in gigantic totem poles (wink wink) that he carved by hand from wood he cut himself, and art he made or collected through the years he spent traveling the world with ada.”

And the Bride had this to say about Hudson:

When I remember my grandparents, I still see them in their house in Dover, my grandma squealing with delight at our arrival, squeezing us tightly. And behind her, quietly rocking in his chair in front of the wood stove, my grandfather sits. Adding newspaper and wood to the fire, slowly, consistently, a big smile on his face to see us. The yin to her yang. The quiet, kind, consistent rock to her insatiable joy.

Grandpa Hudson officiating at our Cville wedding 2010 with his son Charles

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It’s finally happening in the previous Capital of the Confederacy, ex-Gov Bob McDonnell’s trial is underway. Lawyers are picking a “jury of their peers” and charging him with accepting bribes loans and lavish gifts from a health/supplement company CEO/supporter. It’s rumored that much of the blame on the defense side will be placed on Maureen, who needed the pretense of a certain lifestyle in order to marry off her daughter. It seems misogyny is still rearing its ugly head in Dixie, particularly among Republicans. They are also contending that the ex-first couple of VA were simply extending “common political courtesies” like hosting and arranging meetings for his supporter…while also accepting loans of $165,000.

I’ve never served on a jury, but believe me this would be ripe material for a writer. I’ve heard that many have simply sat in the public section of a courtroom just to listen, to pick up the cadence of a jury trial, to spark an idea that might lead to a plot twist. I wonder if this Richmond trial will be televised? I’ve only watched two trials on TV, OJ and Anita Hill. But this is my kind of reality TV. Gentlemen get out the clapperboard – “Roll Cameras!”

The Bride sent me a video of the Love Bug reading a book at the airport last night. I love that it’s her favorite of the moment, and it used to amuse my daughter too, “Caps for Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina. She was born in Siberia, Russia and immigrated to the US in 1929. A talented artist, this book became a children’s classic instantly. Probably taken from a Yiddish tale, the peddler is trying to sell his caps, while monkeys are doing what they do best. It is a cautionary story for parents and children alike, a kind of “monkey see, monkey do” parable play.

When I would laugh out loud in the car, I’d hear the Bug laughing behind me in her car seat. When I would say, “Thank you Mama for making us pancakes this morning,” she would repeat, “Thank you Mama.” When I would point out a lizard on the deck, she would repeat, “Lizard!” We hiked to the river, we looked for deer every morning, and she would repeat whatever we said, but more importantly, she picked up our feelings, like a tiny toddler empath. It was not just baby see, baby do, but baby feel.

And so, as I was aware of the constant push and pull of parenting once again, of the need to civilize our smallest citizens, and as I was modeling “Please” and “Thank you” and “Excuse me” a gazillion times – because not getting what you want when you want it is tough for anybody, especially a toddler – I thought about our poor ex-Govenor.

In a system that has become corrupt, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between ethical and unethical behavior. If everybody is doing it, trading favors, on Wall Street or in the hallways of political power in our state capital, well then one might understand how a loan might be perceived as a common courtesy. But in a democracy, someone has to play the role of the parent, and put a stop to all that monkey business.   IMG_0927




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Some of you may be watching the Belmont Stakes, but I’ve been texting with my brother-in-law Charlie.
He’s in DC with his Dad, Hudson Favell, a WWII vet making his first pilgrimage to the Washington memorials.

Townships in NJ redirected traffic and stood at attention to salute the vets traveling South today. Bus loads of octogenarians who signed up as teenagers to fight for freedom and democracy on foreign shores.

On this D Day weekend we thank these brave men for their courage.

And I particularly want to thank you Hudson, for serving on the Zaniah, and for being the best Grandfather my children could ever dream of – for loving them, carving them beautiful wooden blocks, officiating at the Bride’s wedding, and taking care of Grandma Ada! You are the best of the greatest generation!



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“What man can pretend to know the riddle of a woman’s mind?” Don Quixote

The Bride and the Groom are very evidence-driven. While I was visiting for the Love Bug’s birth, a Food Truck festival just happened to coincide with her first weekend on the planet. What better way to introduce a newborn to her Nashville environs! But I was conflicted. Do you dare take a 5 day old out among thousands to a public park, in 90 degree heat? My first thought was “No.” Absolutely, positively no…and it reminded me of our first ‘almost’ outing with the baby Bride in the Berkshires.

A friend was hosting a big end of summer party that was going to have a hot air ballon tethered to the ground. Bob was very hot on going and taking our newborn up, up and away. Or somewhat away since the ballon was tied to the earth. I was hormonal and irritable. The more pilot Bob was insistent, I became more intractable. It was my first sign, married life with this man was going to be one long negotiation. But I dug in my heels, and we stayed home. There is nothing quite like parenthood to bring out the mama grizzly in a once perfectly calm, sane woman.

So I stepped back. The Groom was in my camp; thankfully his first reaction to the Food Truck idea was similar to mine. My daughter, however, desperately needed to get out of the house, and of course Grandpa Bob was all about food en plein air, with trucks! It was a stalemate. But, I was also on a many year quest to find the Grilled Cheeserie Truck! Like the famous windmill, this particular phantom truck was widely known throughout the Music City, and I had either just missed it, or passed it by unknowingly, or on one particular occasion, it just never showed. All indications were that the Grilled Cheeserie truck was going to be there. http://thegrilledcheeserietruck.com

What to do? Well, back in the day we didn’t have google with expert opinions on childrearing at our fingertips. We had grandparents, and aunts and friends we could call; I would sometimes consult Penelope Leach’s book. Instead of Apps, we had age-old parenting myths to rely on. In some ways, I think that may have been easier. But after a quick search and texting some friends with a 2 week old baby about meeting up, we hitched that Love Bug up, way up on her Daddy in a Becco baby carrier and headed out to slay the dragon of food trucks. The Grilled Cheeserie truck was there! Unfortunately, the lines were so long and the heat was so hot, we only managed a quick walking tour and went home. My quest continues. On balance, I always like to weigh the good with the bad and the grilled cheese, which I am determined to find on my next trip!

The Fall Menu

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The funny thing about scheduling a C-section, you know when the baby is coming, and everything seems organized and in control. You check into the hospital 2 hours before the OR time, then you find out there have been a few emergency unscheduled C-sections that morning, so you wait…and you wait…and you wait. And waiting is the hardest part.

Then all of sudden, they come in the room and roll out with your daughter. The Groom gets to wait until the spinal takes effect and the surgeon is ready, then he heads for the OR. And now you start to crumble inside because now there is no one to stay strong for, no one to visit with and chat up about this or that. Well, there is Bob still, her Father and the Saviour of Lost Things. He knows how you feel instinctively. Together you hold each other up…

Until they roll her back in the room, followed by the Groom and a new little person. A beautiful baby girl who somehow manages to steal your heart all over again. Just the way the Bride first did so long ago. This morning we played the Circle of Life on Bob’s iPad, because that’s how it feels. Seven whole pounds of wonder and enchanting eyes.

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We are counting down the days and hours until our new grand daughter’s birthday. Everything is ready. The other grandma-to-be told the Bride she hadn’t hung the curtains in the nursery before the Groom was born. And so I told her about running into town with the Flapper to buy crib bumpers. Babies come when they want to come. But we know this little girl’s birthday, because she is determined to stay in the breech position, her birthday is a date on the OR’s calendar. So the last few days my daughter can spend painting animals to hang on the nursery wall, visiting a friend’s new baby boy, and we can sit together on the front porch, with our morning coffee. Watching the children walk to school. It is the sweetest of times.

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