I lived for a long time with someone who was beautiful, winsome, intelligent, persuasive, and mostly dysfunctional. Because I was her child and I loved her with the pure passion a child has for its mother, I wanted to be like her. I thought her moods should be my moods, her pain my pain.
Mending and ironing are simple tasks. Tedious, but in some cases rewarding. I spent today doing both. It seemed like my world, and the world in general, had become so muddled and torn that doing something tactile, something I could control, would make a difference, at least to me. And maybe a difference to the keeping of this home, this house, this place where we live and breathe, and create a safe and somewhat serene place for family and friends.
My grandmother Ruth was born in 1892 and married her first husband Norman, my grandfather, around 1916. My father Albert was born in 1918. They lived with Ruth’s mother Mary Ann in New Jersey, a little place called Mount Olive, on a chicken farm.
My grandmother told me that my grandfather was so untrained in practical skills that she had to show him how to use a hammer. He ultimately turned out to be a very good carpenter and then a draftsman/architect. But she liked to take credit for teaching him how to hold a hammer. Who knows? Truth or fiction?
In 1957 I was fifteen. Eisenhower, a member of the Lost Generation, was President. He had recently agreed to defend Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan against invasion. Nixon, a member of the Greatest Generation, was his Vice Presidemt. The Civil Rights movement was just beginning. Newspaper headlines revealed there was a Mad Bomber on the loose and the Ku Klux Klan was making big trouble, We were in the midst of the Cold War with daily reminders of the nuclear bomb threat. We practiced drop drills. People were building bomb shelters.
It is that time of year when there are big changes coming. Some things are replanting themselves without much fanfare. Some are spectacular -- and they may be where you least expect to find them.
Under the best of conditions we grow straight and true, perfect images of what we were intended to be. Or are those images for us? Sometimes life throws us curves, or obstacles. Sometimes we have to bend or we will break. Sometimes we have to hide to survive. Life will do what it must, and mostly if we let it, we can trust that in the end we will be enough. We may not be what we think is our perfect image, or even anyone's image, but we survive. Being reminded of that by a carrot is unusual, I suppose, but also very ordinary.
Parker Palmer writes about “withering into the truth” as he ages. That phrase captures both a hope and hopelessness for me. I have never felt so depleted before. Childbirth was a breeze compared to this new age and stage. At seventy-five, and recently recovering both from a bout with the flu and a bad fall, I am experiencing a kind of weariness and dysphoria that is new to me. I can’t seem to get my legs under me to move back into my life.
That's a question I get asked when I go grocery shopping and have more than a couple of items, but not one I was asked very often when I was younger. Maybe it's a new trend -- people trying to help one another. That would be great.
My reponse is always "No, I can manage thank you." But today the shopping was a particularly big one, with a box of bottles -- wine, and sparkling water. So I decided to opt for some assistance.
We certainly had them, didn't we? So many great and grand expectations..so much hope..
We knew the gift we had been longing for, working for, was really, really within our reach and we just had to wait patiently until we could open it. Until we could own it.
I'm sitting at the Farmers Market enjoying a tamale and a latte. The air is warm, but not too warm. In fact it is beginning to feel a tiny bit like fall. There are a few yellow leaves on the liquidambar (or redgum) trees. Since those are usually the first to turn, it may be some time before there is evidence elsewhere. I don't count the Halloween decorations already appearing at Michael's.