A few faves: 10/9-10/15

This week’s faves: The sentimental sort.

#1: My great-grandmother’s pearls

My dresser and grandma's pearls

My great-grandma Iva died two years ago, and I’m honored to own two strands of her pearls. I wear them every so often, and love being reminded of her when I do.

Although she lived in West Allis, Wis., and I in Las Vegas, we were close through visits every summer, a card every birthday and phone calls in between. I am lucky to have known my great-grandmother as well as I did, especially since I’m not sure if I know anyone my age who can say they have even met their great-grandparents.

I knew my great-grandmother as a strong woman, overcoming an unspeakable past of which I only know in snippets. Some of those: she grew up in a one room home with about seven siblings, was shipped off at age 15 to work so she could help feed the family and then shortly after, gave birth and started raising her oldest daughter, my grandmother. Years later, she became a large influence in my mother’s life, whom I deeply respect. Perhaps it’s through their bond that I first came to admire my great-grandmother.

I inherited my love for words from my great-grandma, who would play Scrabble with my mom and me until we could no longer fight the weight of our eyelids falling shut. Beating grandma was always an accomplishment worth boasting, so much that the victor often saved the score card to prove a win. She never missed a birthday, always sending a handwritten message inside one of those hard-to-find cards just for a great-granddaughter. When I graduated from high school, her card included one of the notes I gave her in kindergarten. It didn’t surprise me she had kept it all those years.

I keep one of the necklaces draped across a photo frame that also holds a flower from my great-grandmother’s funeral. The arrangement sits in the middle of my dresser, prominently, where I see it every day. The photo is a snapshot from the last time I saw my great-grandma. I’ve always loved the photograph, but it holds even more value now knowing I’ll never have another with my great-grandparents.

 

#2: The Brewers

Go Brewers!

So how ’bout them Brewers?

“What a hot ball club,” in the words of my 90-year-old great-grandfather.

I’ve never been one to intensely follow any professional sporting team, but with a family of athletes who hail from Wisconsin, I’ve been bred to root for the Packers and even, the Brewers. For once, the latter is proving to be something worth rooting for!

Last summer when I lived with my great-grandfather in a suburb of Milwaukee, I learned the ins and outs of the team, beyond — believe it or not — who the cutest players are on the roster (Left fielder Ryan Braun is first on that list, by the way). I caught a few games with family at Miller Park and watched nearly all the rest of ‘em with my grandpa Wally in his living room. It’s probably no surprise that he’s the first person I thought of as the Brewers soared into the post season this year. I called him to catch up last week, and together, we of course analyzed whether they can make it the rest of the way.

I regrettably haven’t been following the team so much this season, but am of course paying attention now. I hope they keep winning because for lack of more poetic terms: It would be so cool.

But beyond the facts that I love a good underdog story or I’ve grown up rooting for the team — Brewers wins make for easy conversation with my great-grandfather who otherwise considers a 10-minute phone call to be “a terribly long one.” He’s quite a character. As grumpy as he can be at times, we grew close last summer and I miss his stories of how he won over great-grandma or the time he met this player or that one back when the Brewers were the Braves.

So, here’s to hoping the Brewers clean up their sloppy errors of last game and rack in a win at home Sunday.

 

#3: Play for Keeps

Play For Keeps

I caught up with my good high school friend Cash Colligan this week to help him out with some writing projects for his new band. I started listening to the album and haven’t stopped since — and not just because I’m terribly biased. Definitely check ‘em out!

It was great to catch up with him.

Cash and I became friends freshman year as the founding team of our high school’s newspaper, The Liberty Tribune. Cash provided the much needed comic relief in both content and the stressful newsroom.

In our sophomore English class, our teacher scolded us in the hallway, accusing us of copying one another’s homework after we turned in similar answers. He didn’t believe us when we said we worked on the assignment together, and made us each redo it. It’s funny now, but I was pretty mad at the time. I was flipping through old yearbooks a few weeks ago, and when I saw that Cash wrote a note about this it definitely made me giggle.

Cash started his band, The Cab, our third year in school, and I remember editing and giving feedback on lyrics of their initial songs. I wrote the first story on the group as they started to take off. I still have a copy that all the boys signed for me, in case they made it big.

And at high school graduation, he gave a sweet introductory speech for my valedictorian talk.

Although the Cab made it further than any of us probably ever expected — hundreds of thousands of record sales, an international headlining tour and plenty of media acclaim — Cash left all that to find what made him start it all in the first place: happiness. He now plays bass in the up and coming Play For Keeps, sacrificing the hype of a more popular band to simply be happy in making music.

It was interesting to hear how some people chide him for leaving a seemingly bigger endeavor to take a risk in exploring the unknown. It’s something I can relate to as I put a journalism career on hold to follow other dreams for a bit.

It all made me realize that while so much has changed since high school, things are still very much the same. And as we both have before, I know we’ll succeed in our next adventures.

—JDF