Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Late winter changes:
snow today, gone tomorrow;
cold night, rainy day.
St Valentine’s Day is a silly holiday. What are we celebrating? Romantic love? Erotic love? Familial love? Or that fun Greek word, agape: spiritual, unconditional love? Who needs one special day to tell somebody you love them? Love happens every day.
When Valentine’s Day began to be romanticized back in the days of Chaucer (yes, you too can Wikipedia it, just like me) people made things for each other. They grew flowers, though not much blooms in February, and carefully chose them as gifts for their heart’s true love. They created art out of love and in this post I feature art work by Laurel Burch whose work looks to me like it’s created out of love; I love her use of bright colors and fanciful shapes.
Somewhere in the early 20th century commercialism sniffed out another marketing opportunity, as if Christmas wasn’t enough. Today one must buy flowers, chocolates, perfume, jewelry and what all to show one’s love. I don’t mind showing love to another person, it’s the forced commercialism of the holiday and how it is designed to create guilt that makes me cranky.
Love is not about stuff. Well, it might be about chocolate, but that’s another essay.
Love is not about sex; sex is biology, but sharing your body with another person may be the ultimate gift you can give someone when it is done with love. But as far as sex, as Tina Turner sings so well, What’s Love Got to do With It? I like this video version on YouTube, http://youtu.be/smGG7L_JjSM, especially the eye candy musicians backing her up.
Love is about being with people you want to be with. Love is carrying those people in your heart forever when you can’t be with them. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy, nor does it boast; love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, neither is it self-serving; love is slow to anger, and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all. Love never fails.
Many of us grew up with these words in our lives and no matter the source they are good words to live with. I find them to be good words for me to remember because as hard as I try to do right I make mistakes all the time, and these words help me to not be as harsh to other people when they make mistakes. I’m working on remembering them when I am being hard on myself.
While I’m not interested in the commercial stuff of Valentine’s Day, I love hearts. In 1992 on my grandmother’s birthday, February 4, my doctor told me I was pregnant. I was shocked because the hubster and I were 17 year veterans of active and effective birth control. I was pragmatic about children. The hubster was unable to work; we didn’t have a medical diagnosis back then because we could not afford doctors. I was the only income for the family, and as a self-employed hairdresser I didn’t make enough to cover our meager expenses. Because we couldn’t afford doctors he couldn’t even apply for disability insurance, through Social Security or otherwise. When I was a child I assumed I’d be like my mother and marry a nice man who was gainfully employed and would provide for me and his family, have his babies, and live happily ever after. When that didn’t happen I had to be brutally honest with myself about what I could handle in this life and parenting was not in the picture.
Then I got sick. I had nausea and stomach cramps. With my history of spastic stomach, hepatitis, and chronic bronchitis, I thought I had liver cancer or stomach cancer. I missed a couple menstrual cycles. I read everything in the library about stomach cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and early menopause. I had fevers, and I was so tired I could barely make it through my morning shower let alone through the day. My stomach hurt all day long and most of the night. Since I was already 38 and we were using multiple birth control methods a conception never crossed my mind.
I was so surprised by an unplanned pregnancy after religiously applying birth control methods. The clinic that diagnosed me recommended an abortion because of the risks of my advanced age. I probably used a choice expletive or two when I told them to take a flying leap. I knew about sperms and eggs and a little enough biology to know there was another heart wanting entry into this world, one tiny little golden stardust heart beating beneath mine. A new heart created out of love. Risk be damned, if this new heart fought through all that contraception then it deserved to live. I was not about to rip this miracle from my body or my life.
Ten days later, on February 14, the hubster and I were married at the local county courthouse. The judge who officiated the marriage vows told us she had never seen the courthouse so full of people for a wedding. After 17 years of sharing our lives living together, we were going to share our hearts with each other bonded by law til death do us part, bonded by love forever, and we wanted everyone we knew to share with us. We packed the house, standing room only.
The familiar words about love above do not mention love is hard; it’s everyday work and work every day. I’m one of those lucky people for whom everything is hard. I’m also lucky to know I have known love for another person, several times.
A life-long friend from grade school has spent her life alone. She is one of the smartest, most loving and caring persons I have ever known, and if anybody ever deserved a loving partner in this world she does. Valentine’s Day is very hard for her as it brings reflection upon her life without love. I often remind her how hard it is to share your life and love with another person. She recently said, “At least you’ve know what it is to love and be loved in return.” Her comment gave me pause to do what I do best: think too much.
She is half right. I know what it is to love. I know that feeling, I know yearning, I know compassion, I know passion, I know contentment. I know the comfort of having the same person on the other end of the phone every time, and knowing who is waiting for me in my home, and who will come when I cry help. I know the pleasure of waking up in the morning to a hand-picked bouquet of flowers next to my bed to surprise me and a fresh cup of espresso waiting for me every day in the kitchen.
I also know the hard parts of love: the worry, the anger, the ambivalence, the disagreements; I know hypervigilance. Selfish boorish men I loved have told me I am selfish and boring. I know what it’s like to listen politely to the person you love talk non-stop about topics you do not care about, while that same person will not spend one minute listening to you. And I know what it’s like not to be able to agree on a movie or a meal or what color to paint the house, so it goes without.
I cannot speak for another person’s feelings. I have had men in my life who have stayed with me for periods of time, be it that they loved me, wanted sexual intercourse with me, wanted intellectual discourse with me, or wanted money from me I don’t know that, and feel I have no way of ever being absolutely sure of how another person feels.
Now, actions can say much, while words can be ambivalent. The person who is always there for you and comes when you call for help; the person who spends equal time building a home and family; the person who shares a bathroom with you and puts the seat down, now that means something. If that’s love, I’ll take that.
As far as knowing a person would go to the ends of the earth for you or cannot live without you or would die for you, or all those commercialistic over-romanticized notions, how does one ever know that? I know what my marriage vow means to me. For better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, we are in this together; we will grow old together. I see far too many people who marry before they consider the full ramifications of that vow, and consider marriage to be as disposable as holey socks. And for these people perhaps marriage isn’t for them.
My wish for you today: I hope you get to be with people you love every day. If you can’t, I hope you hold in your heart love for people you love and have loved. I hope you get to tell them and show them what love has to do with it every day. And I hope they tell you with their actions and their words they love you back as best they can.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – the freeze and snow last weekend took its toll on my sedums and the neighbor’s yuccas.We’ll see how they revive. This is the first year I’ve noticed my sedums having a die-back because of cold; they’ve always been really hardy. Here’s a colorful sedum, pretty ivies and evergreen needles shining in the sun. And my chives are showing little greenie spears.
Currently Reading – Alphabet Juice: the Energies, Gists, Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences, With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory (2009, English etymology and grammar) by Roy Blount Jr.; Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (2013, biography) by Jeff Guinn. Yes, concurrently.
Winter Classic Reading Choice 2014: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. A slow read, slowly unfolding.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Rain. What elegant ecological design, pure clean water free from the sky.
- The refreshing cleanness of drinking water.
- The hubster, who made me a Valentine card.
- The son, who moved his belongings home on Valentine’s Day though I still haven’t seen him.
- My sister, who sends me magazine articles she thinks I would like. She’s usually right.
- My mother, my best supporter and cheerleader, whom I miss like crazy because she would always listen no matter what I needed to talk about. I miss her stories about when she was young and about her family. She would be watching Winter Olympics 2014 right along with me, admiring the athletes and cringing at every crash like me. Today it has been hard not to pick up the phone and just make that call to heaven to talk to her.
- Skiing, ice skating, and snowboarding in my dreams.
- My life-long friend from grade school who, whether she knows it or not, helps me keep perspective. I wish I could study with her; she has so much knowledge I would like to know.
- My cousin, born on Valentine’s Day, whose father, one of my blessed uncles, had the graciousness to give him the baptismal name of Valentine. I won’t give his full name for privacy purposes but I have always thought his name so beautiful. He was a sweet baby boy, and is a dear and caring man. If you read this, you know who you are, and I love you forever.
- My cousin, Valentine’s younger brother, February 19th birthday, an artist; self-taught, play-by-ear pianist; creative hair stylist; and loving person, died way too young from AIDS, which has touched so many families. He was loved by everyone who met him.
- Having pictures of these two cousins on my wall.
- My pool pal, who tells good stories and is a good listener as well, who made me a Valentine card.
- Half-price chocolate sales the day after Valentine’s Day.
Hoping you have a lovely week.