It has been one of those years. One of those that left me drained and depleted. It left me searching for what else I could possibly give. 2017 was about stripping away for me. 2018 is going to be a nourishment and replenishing year, thanks to a fresh perspective.
I sat by my mom’s bedside stewing in anger to see the monitors and the woman I need most in pain. I was so concentrated in staring at my mom and wishing I could do something besides feel helpless. My grandfather started talking, and at first I could not hear him because I was so fixated on my mom’s situation. I looked over at him at first as a formality with a polite acknowledgement, but then truly started hearing him, his story was pulling me away into a trance almost. His story was about his mother, my great grandmother. I started having visions. I could see her in glimpses from my memory. My mind was painting a picture of her in the pictures I’d seen in her younger years in that same old mill house we frequented as a child. I could see the yard. I could see the old, gray Oldsmobile car. I could smell the kitchen. She was and is a strong woman, but strength is not what I remembered about her in my youth. I recall a woman very different than his story portrayed. If I close my eyes, I can taste her brownies with frosting in that same ‘ol 9×9 pan or the rice krispie treats she always had when we visited and how each meeting was met with the sweetest embrace and smile. She always was so humble and meek. Due to my childhood recollections, I was struggling to depict the woman my grandfather was telling me about. A woman like that, a woman who was always smiling seemed as if nothing had ever bothered her.
As I am having this epiphany, I am missing parts of the story. I focus again, and I hear, “When Father came back from the war he needed 4 hours of therapy a day and she bathed him every night…” I am flipping through my memories, and I remember running around their house. I only see 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a small jointed living room and kitchen. My Grandfather was the youngest of 6 children. Great Grandmother had all of them before she was 24. She raised them primarily on her own as Great Grandfather was injured when he returned from World War II. He returned paralyzed. Can you imagine? Six children to take care of on a wounded veteran’s check plus a disable spouse being your other half- what responsibility, what loneliness, what strength. She must have had so many days where she just was weary and wanted someone to carry her, to help her, to take care of her.
I have this sudden urge to come to her with a smile, a warm embrace and oh heck of a lot of sweet treats. Moments before he shared this story, I was scorning at my misfortune. I was wallowing in my anger for what has felt like injustice after injustice. Oh why me? So selfish. Such tunnel vision. There are people before me, beside me and who will come after me who will be given a hard hand as well. I do not believe there’s a God out there that can keep you from pain. Pain is inevitable. Loss is a daily life experience. However, in my short years on Earth, I have discovered that it is completely up to you if you let the misfortune take your smile, your joy, your perseverance. As for me, this was a realization for an area of small improvement I can make in my own life. My anger with my own misfortunes and a hard year has taken a toll on my overall spirit, but after hearing Grandfather’s story of Great Grandmother’s strength and perseverance- I feel like I can take a few more beatings knowing I come from a long line of strength. One more take away for me, smiling through struggles does not dismiss the hardship but it does give it less power.
I want to release my scornfulness for peace and calluses for compassion. @thebohemianfarmgirl
Grandfather shared the story of his Mother that gave me a perspective I needed to hear. I can recall many stories of her brownies, kind smiles and warm embraces, and I labeled her as one of those people that make things look easy, must not have cross adversity (like I had). I never gave her the credit she so deserved. This story is shared and dedicated my Great Grandmother, one incredible woman, an unsung hero and never asked for an atta girl. My hope for you is that you examine where you are most selfish and open your eyes to how you can re-focus. I share her story because I want to remember. I want to remember how good people act. I want to release my scornfulness for peace and calluses for compassion. Sometimes we just need a reminder of what is good, what is right, what is true. Peace to you!
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