April McGowan

Walk Away

IMG_0011 (2)What have you been up to lately? We’ve been very busy. Let’s see, where to begin? I got the manuscript of my latest novel, Macy, turned in to my publisher, and spent the following days celebrating my daughter’s 16th and my son’s 11th birthdays…and worked on our M.E.P (our marriage enrichment project read IKEA shelving unit—see lovely photo on your left).

How hard can that be, you ask? Seriously, IKEA has great instructions, and it’s pretty simple…on paper. Except, did you know you have to drill the drawer front handles yourself? Yeah. That was fun, getting them all lined up (just be glad you weren’t here). Thankfully, my husband came equipped with a math function of which I am sorely lacking. Five, er…six…er…eight ruined drawer fronts later, there you have it! Flawless! Mostly.

It’s beautiful, and it’s something we’ve wanted to do for years and years. All our homeschool stuff is (soon to be) organized into ONE place (I know, right??!). “Mom, where’s the ____?” My “In any one of four places,” answer has changed to “Right there!” Well, it will be as soon as I get everything moved. But then—perfection!

Yes, I know, I attain perfection every time I reorganize that towel closet and perfection is stolen from me in days. I know eleven-year-old habits will be hard to break. Quit raining your well-balanced logic on my parade.

Our M.E.P went really well, considering I had to deal with letting go some more—which wasn’t much fun off and on. I have gone from a capable gal who could unpack most of the house after a move in a couple days to our M.E.P taking three weeks. I had a day of hating that. Much improved over what could have been three weeks of hating that. She’s growing, she’s accepting. (Still stinks though…grumble…grumble).

Your mind is still on all those wasted drawer fronts, isn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll do something creative for our new kitty with them (I will tell you about him next time). Wait, you’re not worried about that? You just want to know how we could have ruined eight of them?

Sometimes you have this plan that looks great all sketched out, even measures out perfectly, but it just fails. The drill bit was bent and we didn’t know it. The hole for the right side was off just a tiny bit, so the template was off all those times. Lastly, plain and simple, the drill slipped in my grasp (drills are heavier to me now than they used to be).

Sometimes you just have to roll with it. And know when to walk away and let your spouse work out their geometry skills. Knowing when to walk away can be harder than you think. I’m a hang-on-with-my-teeth girl. After I walked away (mentally and physically), my patience for the whole project grew. I used to like drilling—not so much anymore. Gladly, my husband has a knack for it and finished up the fronts and doors like a pro.

Letting go can be very freeing. To be honest, I haven’t noticed the tools, the boxes on the front steps, the unfinished part all that much since I ‘walked away.’ That is not me. Actually, it’s the new me. The project got done, and I didn’t stress about it. Chalk up one successful M.E.P!

Have you had a fun or exasperating M.E.P? Leave me a message about it below!




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Wishing You Were Here

The past few years have been a struggle for my family health-wise. I’ve shared as much on my blog. This has made it hard for us to take vacations. But a couple months back, we planned one down to northern California, to see a good portion of our family—one of those being my Granny who, at the age of 96, was declining in health.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time, but were able to attend her memorial. And while I love to write and do pretty well with my fingers on the keyboard, I’m not much of a speaker. I mean, I do fine—but it’s hard for me to talk in front of people, and especially difficult during such an emotional time. So, I waited until now.

I’ve been very blessed to have a number of grandparents in my life. I have four parents (due to remarriage), and were able to know most of their parents, and even a couple of their grandmother’s.

Both Granny, and her mother, Grandma Lind, were instrumental in my life. My mother and I moved to northern California when I was ten. To say I was lonely is a huge understatement. It was just a few short months later that my mother met and married my step-father. And thus, I was thrust into a new family with grandparents and a brother and sister (who were out of the house by my arrival), aunts and uncles and cousins. I felt very uneasy, and didn’t know what to expect.

Both Granny and Grandma Lind took me right into the family. If there were any doubts they had about me, I never knew it. As soon as my parents said, “I do” I was a grandkid and that was that. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to be accepted so quickly.

Granny was expert in making just about anyone feel at home, and I did. So much so, that one time, when she was babysitting me, I noticed that the clock on the piano was an hour off (Daylight savings time had come and gone). So, I fixed it. She had a funny look on her face when I told her how I’d taken care of it for her. I had no idea that a professional needed to set that clock…that expensive mantle clock. But, after explaining it to me, it was never mentioned again. I discovered later it had been quite expensive to repair. I kept a clear path between that clock and me from then on.

She loved music, and during a period of time when I was taking piano lessons, let me come over and practice at her house. I’m sure she must have gotten pretty tired of hearing me play the same pieces over and over again (I use the word play loosely)—but she just smiled and encouraged me. I never really mastered it, I wish I had.

Granny loved clowns and had a collection of figurines and pictures. One Halloween, I was about thirteen, I decided to be a clown for trick-o-treating. My friends and I canvassed the whole town (it felt like) and I needed to use the bathroom. We were nearby Granny’s house, so I knocked on the door. She answered and gave me a candy. I asked, “Can I use the bathroom?” Well, I’d never seen an incredulous look on her face before, but sure gave me one. When I stepped inside, she kindly asked me to leave, took me firmly by the arm and escorted me out, shutting and locking the door, flipping off the porch light. To say I was shocked didn’t begin to explain my feelings. My grandmother had just tossed me from the house! As I was standing in the dark, wondering what happened, I realized she had no idea who I was. So, I started knocking again. After a minute, she flipped on the porch light, opened the door a crack and told me to go away in a very stern voice. Had I been the miscreant she took me for, I’m sure I would have turned tail and ran. Instead I said, “But, Granny, it’s me, it’s April!” She was just as relieved as I was. I apparently made a very convincing clown.

Years later, when I got engaged, she lovingly sat my fiancé and I down and asked what our plans were (we were pretty young). She was matter-of-fact, yet kind. And over the twenty plus years we’ve been married, unendingly supportive.

People at her memorial talked about her classy appearance (always dressed to the nines); her love of travel (was even asked by a native New Guinea man to be one of his wives); her love of sporty cars; how she walked in her faith every day of her life, reaching out to strangers and making them feel like a friend. She so did. But, for me, I’ll always remember how she looked at this lonely ten-year-old girl and took her as one of her own—no questions asked—and loved her. Thanks, Granny.

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