Wise Women

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Ever look back on your day and notice this running theme?

That kinda happened to me today… But I think when that happens it speaks to the inter-connectedness not only within ourselves and our own ideas, but to the interconnectedness between people and circumstances.

I’m not trying to “new age out” on you all; I’m just sayin’… The way I see it, it’s not just coincidence, baby!

After some morning errands downtown (and a very entertaining time at Chase Bank- they were amused; I was amused; everyone was happy in the end) I came home and was deciding what to do next… It was a beautiful day out- sunny, perfect weather… and my car has been in the BEST parking space for the past few days- it may never move again… So, it seemed the perfect day to walk to the drugstore to pick up my prescription refill… I checked it out on GoogleMaps, and it was an easy 3 mi. roundtrip…

On the way, I remembered I hadn’t called my grandmother in a while, and had been meaning to… So, perfect opportunity! We had the funniest chat for the 20 minutes or so as I walked to the store. I just crack up at the things she says- she is always loving and kind, and will (without fail) start crying at least once per conversation. While I don’t always agree with her ideology or line of thinking, it’s really entertaining and cute to hear… Some of today’s favorites?

  1. “So you don’t have a masters degree… Are they really so mean as to hang that over your head?” (…Me explaining about the job hunt; trying to explain that to be a counselor, yes, the masters degree IS essential, and won’t be here for 8 weeks… It’s not mean, grandma, it’s the law.)
  2. “You know, I would like to do things, because I would do them faster, and my way, which I would like better… And I used to do them all when the kids were little, cause your grandpa was at work… But your grandfather is retired now… So I have to let him… You know, because he’s the man. It makes him feel right.” (Not really a fan of gender equality, huh, grandma?)
  3. Well, if you’re in jeans and a sweatshirt; I’d probably be as naked as possible with a tank top and sandals on… Oh these flashes! …Weather sounds lovely!”  (I really have no words.)

It’s so cool to talk to her- she and my grandpa’s 55th wedding anniversary is coming up soon… We chatted about that; about how I was a baby for their 25th anniversary, and my mom had Mass for them in their house. Admitting that I clearly did not have the answer, having only been married for 3 years before throwing in the towel, I asked her, “What’s the secret? You have something figured out to make it 55 years…” She said, “Nope, no secret… Just a lot of hard work, and a lot of love. …And your grandpa is a pretty good man… He cares about family and God and people… and I do, too.. So that worked out.”

After I got off the phone with her, made my purchase, and started the walk back, I got to thinking… I thought of my other grandmother, who passed away a few years ago… She wasn’t married as long as my grandparents who are still living, but she had 2 beautiful marriages in her lifetime… Losing two husbands in tragic ways. However, I remember her saying almost the exact same thing to me about what the “secret” of a good/ long lasting marriage is.  The other memorable bit on that secret I’ve been given came from the last set of “grandparent type people” in my life, my “grandma Nancy and uncle Barry” (Clearly, not really relatives)… Grandma Nancy once told me, “A real working marriage IS all of that ‘mushy love stuff’, but more importantly, it’s the knowledge and ACTION that comes from knowing, that keeps you making the DECISION to love each day, in everything you do, when it’s hard and when it’s fun. Married love is a choice and a commitment more than it is a feeling. Now, that wonderful feeling you have when you KNOW you want to make that choice? That’s when you know you’ve found your married love.” She said that to me years ago- ironically, after I was separated from my ex-husband- but I never forgot it… It stuck with me.

It was ironic that I had a phone conversation with her today, too… I hadn’t spoken to her in almost two years… what are the chances that today of all days we speak? It was kind of hilarious, as she didn’t know I had moved to Chicago… She asked, “Where are you these days?” I said, “Chicago.” She said, “Oh wait, repeat that…the line must have gotten some static… It almost sounded like you said Chicago.” Me: “Oh no, I did say Chicago.” Grandma Nancy: “What??????” Hahahaha!

It was good to hear her voice and to catch up with her and my Grandma… These women hold stories and experiences so different from my own life, but very treasured, nonetheless.

As I completed my walk home, I passed the shoe shop in the bottom of my building. I remembered my stop in there a week or so ago, to pick up a UPS package, asking them about fixing my red “gram shoes” from THIS POST…. And realized I had forgotten all about the shoe repair that’s been needed for MONTHS. Clearly, it was a grandma mojo kind of a day… So I bounded upstairs, grabbed my red “gram shoes” and headed into the shop.

After being informed they had “cheap plastic soles” and paying $20, I informed him these are shoes with excellent “soul”, hence their essential function in my life. He smiled; said something in a thick accent, and concluded with “They be ready for you tomorrow.”

Excellent. He got it.

I got home and hopped on Facebook (as I often do) to see what was going on… My friend and massage therapist in New Orleans had posted several things, including a great picture of him and his grandmother, whom he was very close to. I was sad to learn she had died this morning, and I know what a terrible pain my friend must be feeling. When I was grieving the loss of my Gram, he listened and understood… His Gram was like a mother to him, particularly after he lost his mother to cancer as a child… I LOVED hearing the hilarious stories about his grandmother- they were literally laugh-out-loud funny over the past few years, as she aged and dealt with medical struggles, but clearly lost none of her spunk or personality. We sometimes worried people would wonder what was going on because we’d be laughing so hard from the stories he was telling me about her during my massage.

He posted several other things- including some Youtube videos of Maya Angelou (arguably mother and grandmother to America) reading her poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me”.  I watched it; and thought what an interesting poem to ponder on the day of a loss… I have often turned to the poems and writings of Maya Angelou in a difficult time, and I have books with rips of post-its hanging out of nearly every page, because I wanted to mark “the good parts” (It’s Maya… ALL the parts are the good parts!). I have pretended that she, too, was one of my grandmas… imagining myself sitting beside her, listening to her as I read her writings. I got to meet her for about 5 seconds when I was in college, and I felt as if I had met the Dali Lama…. After watching that one video today, I sat on my sofa and probably listened and watched Maya Angelou clips for 30 minutes. It was good.

It was a day of wise women.

It was a day that the universe seemed to embrace and bring towards me women much older and wiser than I, who have lived more life than I, that think differently than I, and lived different lives than I… But have touched and impacted me deeply nonetheless. I am thankful for these women… and for these types of people in the lives of my friends, like the one I talked about today… Because I get to learn and grow and be enriched by them, too.

Who are these women in your life? I’d love to hear about it.

Today, I was really torn over which Maya Angelou poem I wanted to share at the end of my post… BOTH “Phenomenal Woman” and “Still I Rise” seemed fitting… I have great stories and memories about my first experiences of both of these, and I love them both… So, if you haven’t read the other, I encourage you to check it out…. But I settled on “Still I Rise”… It speaks to the resiliency and strength and femininity of ALL 4 of these women I wrote about today. Enjoy.

STILL I RISE

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.         -Maya Angelou

 

Until Next Time,

TM

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