I missed the memo about magic.

I’ve recently begun reading the Harry Potter books for the first time.  I know, I know…I’m crazy late to the Harry Potter party, but I think it took to my love affair with The Hunger Games Series to finally break down my resistance to fiction written for younger readers.  And like any sentient creature who’s read any of the Harry Potter books, I’m utterly charmed by the characters, the setting, and of course, the magic.

While Harry and the rest of the Hogwarts crew learn the ways of major league magic, I’ve been thinking about all the little bits of magic I’ve experienced in my own life.  I’m not sure if it’s good luck, good karma, or sheer force of will, but some wonderful things have happened to me over the years.  A college friend, observing that I seemed to conjure a lot of good stuff, even coined a term for the phenomenon….”Jamie Charm”.  I’m still not entirely sure what it means, but I’ll take it.

The magic I’ve experienced takes many forms, some small, some big.  I’ve landed perfect jobs in the nick of time.  I rarely get bitten by mosquitoes.  I avoided the pain and inconvenience of oral surgery simply by being born without wisdom teeth.  I typically don’t have to wait more than a couple of seconds for an elevator.  I’ve conceived two babies, both “on the first try”.

It’s that last one that has me reeling most recently, because it really does seem like magic, too good and lucky to be true, that at age 38, I could get knocked up within just a couple of weeks of deciding I really wanted another child.  At the first doctor’s appointment, my obstetrician high- fived my husband, because, statistically at least, we’re total freaks.   Our good fortune in the baby-making department leads to all sorts of magical thinking on my part.  It’s easy to mistake fortuitous physiology for fate.  But it has been my experience, that when things are meant to be, they often seem magically easy. But then again, when something seems to fall into our laps, we sometimes forget that we designed the chair, carefully constructed it, and then chose to have a seat at just the moment when the universe made the drop.

Maybe magic is just the fantastic intersection of the things we can control and the things we can’t, the collision of hope, intention, and chance.   In any event, here’s a really dreamy Olivia Newton-John song on the subject….[And please tell me that Xanadu is one of your favorite movies…seriously, Greek mythology, roller skating, and Gene Kelly…what’s not to like?]

Memo received.

Blue Eyes, Big Hands, and The Art of Staying Busy

I missed the memo about blue eyes, big hands, and the art of staying busy.

A few months back, a wrote a little something about my Grandma, who died a few years ago.  After she died, my Grandpa decided to simplify things by selling the big old house where he and Grandma had raised their family.  He moved to a fairly swanky seniors community where he had a lake view, hot meals prepared every day, and no shortage of  female admirers.  In a place like this, any guy in his 80s who’s got most of his teeth is going to be the beau of the ball…but my Grandpa really was handsome….check him out:

Grandpa and me, 1980.

He was in his late 50s here, I think.  Back in his 20s and 30s, he looked like Mel Gibson.   And I’m not talking wild-eyed, mug shot Mel Gibson, I’m talking  The Year of Living Dangerously Mel Gibson.  Seriously, Grandpa had these big blue eyes that never lost their sparkle.  Even as an octogenarian, he was a cutie.

With my son, Atticus, in 2009. That’s a whole lotta blue-eyed trouble.

And check out the paws on this guy.  As a child,  I was in awe of my Grandpa’s hands.  Within our family, it was widely rumored that Grandpa was fully capable of picking up a child by his or her head, one-handed.  I made it a point never to find out if that was actually true.

But those big hands were dextrous.  Grandpa worked for phone company for decades and in that time handled countless miles of wire, deftly handling the delicate stuff that made phones work before satellites came along and changed the game.

Even after he retired, he had to keep those big hands busy.  His house and car were full of all sorts of Macgyver-esque improvisations of engineering.  He became the neighborhood handy man and he loved to tinker and do jigsaw puzzles.  Anything to keep his hands busy.

While he enjoyed the ease and activities at his condo, I think my Grandpa missed having a whole houseful of stuff to tinker with.  He still mended the occasional clock radio for a neighbor, but it just wasn’t quite the same.  And I wonder if being less busy, and perhaps losing some of his sense of purpose, made life a little harder for my Grandpa in some ways.

My Grandpa died last month, somewhat unexpectedly, given his relatively good health for a man his age.   If we each get a custom-fit version of heaven, I suppose in his, he’s restored to the ravishing good looks of  his youth and there are broken toasters as far as the eye can see.  If he can rewire things for all eternity, then I think his soul will be at peace.  Love you and miss you, Grandpa.  Memo received.