Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eat Southern, Pray Often, Love Unconditionally - Lessons of a Grandma

Grandma Playing her Harmonica
My very first essay for 4gaby was about my grandmother ("Ironing for Eternity"). Today would have been my grandmother's 101st birthday. She passed away in June of 2008 at 98 years old. An extraordinarily long life lived in an ordinary way. She did not have much education outside of the Bible which she could quote and use against you quite quickly (though never in the mean way that so many do today). She never held a job of great importance, she worked in a textile mill. Grandma kept a spotless house and she cooked wonderful basic Southern meals. Grandma truly believed no good food was ever made that did not use grease, fatback or lard (personally I think she's right). She sewed, and crocheted beautiful items which her daughter (my Momma) despised because they were handmade and Momma wanted store bought stuff which would show they had money...but they didn't have money so she had to wear what her Momma (Grandma) made for her. Grandma dipped snuff, and played her harmonica, and she truly took life as it came to her. She lost her daddy when she was very young, her husband in his sixties, she lost one of her three children to cancer, and she had very little of material value. But she had an indomitable spirit and an ability to love unconditionally. Her lessons are ones that have stayed with me. I keep a clean house, I love to work with my hands, and we attend church regularly. Every holiday meal comes complete with grease, and I don't expect perfection in love. I do these things because I gain peace through doing them...just as she always said I would. I try to take life as it comes to me...but I don't dip snuff (though I do wonder what medicinal properties that stuff has. I mean really, she lived to 98 and had all her faculties right to the end.) I'm too tone deaf to have ever taken up the harmonica, and I think she was very relieved when I married a man who could sing on key.

There is a wonderful book called "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I truly enjoyed this book - her reflections, and her sense of humor all expressed while she worked on making sense of her life. But isn't it interesting that so many of us spend so much time trying to figure out life while the women who have come before us just knew how to live it without stressing over it.

It's nice of the world to think they should pause for a day to recognize Mothers. But the reality is that we pause our entire lives to recognize the world. As Mary wrote in her essay, "The Second Sunday of May and Always", we spend our time loving, nurturing, teaching, and sharing and it's not even just our own children that we do that with...it can be the child down the street, the friend our own age, the elderly stranger that we stop to help. We learn from other women how to be a mother. We mourn their loss, and celebrate their lives, and we pause for one day a year. But perhaps we should each pause each day and recognize the goodness in ourselves. Women are the soul and the heart of the universe. We should celebrate ourselves. Don't we all have women who have shown us the way?

1 comment:

  1. There are so many wonderful women who cross our path in life. Some are family, and grace us with infinate wisdom, even when we are too young to see it, and the others are the sisters and mothers/grandmothers of choice. Wonderful blog, thank you.


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