Gratitude Sunday: My Grandmother’s Whiskers And My Grandfather’s Eyebrow

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
.

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Sunday Haiku
Lightning sparkles sky;
thunder crackles through green air,
waves of water roll.

Sunday Musings
Once again my brain confuses me as we have Memorial Day tomorrow. I look it up every year and thank god for the resources to do so. I think the reason I don’t remember is because I want it to be an entirely different honorarium. As I again understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day I propose we need a new national holiday, a holiday as important as Memorial and Veterans Day. I’d suggest either June or August, and a Monday, as in the first Monday of the month, would be nice so we could have a three day weekend during a summer month.

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Memorial Day is the day we honor veterans who have died in battle, from war wounds, or from lingering past effects of having served our country in the military. Absolutely, they deserve to be remembered and honored. Veterans Day is for honoring living soldiers and veterans and showing our appreciation for their service to our country now, while they are still alive, and to let them know their service has not gone for naught. I don’t remember much being made about soldiers for Memorial Day when I was growing up. After the tragedy of the Vietnam War I started noticing all the red paper poppies appearing year after year sold by aged veterans and their wives on street corners and in store entries.

In 1920, the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as its memorial flower.  Disabled veterans in hospitals make the paper poppies.  All donations from the poppies have gone to support veteran relief efforts.  Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

In 1920, the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as its memorial flower. Disabled veterans in hospitals make the paper poppies. All donations from the poppies have gone to support veteran relief efforts. Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

Maybe it’s the name of this “holiday”. Generations back in perpetuity have honored soldiers by decorating their graves or death sites. Perhaps we should call it Dead Soldiers Day. We could come up with something more attractive and descriptive to say what we really mean about this day, or return to the original Decoration Day.

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Memorial to me means honoring people who have gone before us. I want this day to be about ancestors because every one of them have died in service to their families and work and communities and churches, maybe not in a military war, but certainly in war against starvation and calamity and depravity and poverty. I want this day to be about honoring the generations who gave birth to us, who tried the best they knew how to make this world a right and good place for themselves and us, and keep us as safe as they could.

What do you have from your elders? On this site I have listed gifts I have because of my parents. They had parents as well and back to the beginning times everybody does, each generation contributing to our DNA and body of knowledge so that progress has given us the modern times we live in. We live in interesting times. As they did.

I have my paternal grandmother’s figure. I’m a bit taller, but I am round and cuddly like she was, voluptuous with curves and hips and boobs and butt, full thighs and soft sweet floppy arms. I also have her somewhat delicate disposition as illness or medical issues seem hard on me as they were for her. I have her ability to throw ingredients together in guesstimated proportions and have an edible meal come out.

I have my paternal grandfather’s wry dry sense of humor. He thought he was so funny, and he probably was to his own royal self, as I think I am so funny. Yet people give me quizzical looks like “Really?” meaning “That’s not funny”, as we did to him. He was a postman, then a government job; I also have a government job, though not for the post office. I have skin like his, resplendent with moles in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and numerous skin tags.

I have my maternal grandmother’s long hair. I wear mine waist length in a braid down the middle of my back. Her’s was coarser and had a more vibrant color like the hues in freshly cut cedar. She braided it in two braids every morning and wrapped them around her head in the shape of a crown securing them with a selection of large tortoise shell pins that blended invisibly into the crown. Some of her grandchildren called her Grandma Queen because of her hair. When she was in her late 70s and finally cut her hair, I gave her several permanent waves and teased her that her hair was like copper and silver wire. I am the lucky recipient of her chin whiskers which she never paid attention to as they curled from her chin. She laughed at my sister and my cousin and me when, as self-conscious teenagers, we offered to pluck them for her. My fingers constantly patrol the bottom of my chin seeking out the poinky sprouts to remove every other day or so as they are spiky and trickier to find now many of them are white. And then there is the one over on the side of the jaw that escapes my view until it’s an inch longish and I finally feel it and yank it out. To look at me you’d think I was stroking a beard invisible to the eyes, but not the skin of toddler. “Mommy, don’t hug so hard. That sharp thing under your chin just scraped me.”

I have my maternal grandfather’s love of gardens, though I don’t have much of my own garden right now. I have Grandpa’s eyebrow as well. Not the whole thing, the wild and bushy mess of hair over his eyes that whitened as he aged. Not the lush spikes that grew in the inside corners, making them look like some sort of cartoon animal eyes. Nope, I get to have the one that grows straight out of the middle of the eyebrow, one on each side, the one that’s three times coarser and longer than all the others and sticks out away from my head in this crazy spiral. Oh, and bright red sometimes.

I have my maternal great-grandmother’s grim visage. My mother told me of many of her hardships: the life of a hard-scrabble farm woman who never had enough to eat let alone make ends meet, birthing a medically challenged baby and raising it along with the rest of her children, abuse from my great-grandfather. I don’t remember meeting her though I think I must have when I was very small. I have her picture and you can see the trial of every day in the lines of her face. That’s what I see when I look in the mirror, sadness, fatigue, the weight of dealing day after day with whatever new twist happens today and the additional challenge of constantly self-monitoring my reactions to other people. I think my cranky potty mouth is alienating out there. I can’t hardly call it polite society any more, as most people have forgotten manners in the interest of being politically correct, a backward step at best. I admit I find much of other people’s behavior annoying and it frustrates me. I think I am probably just as annoying to them. And so, a grumpy face.

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I know only a few other stories about the rest of my folks. But I like to think the accumulation of their DNA, their hardships, and their hard work has led to the intelligence and curiosity and creativity and love of the natural world I am lucky to experience. I think they need to be remembered.

American society is one of the few that does not have a special day to pay honor to past generations of ancestors. This is a huge missed opportunity. By being connected to the past we remember what happened before and can move beyond errors that may have occurred then, and improve upon past ideas. So many families have lost the interest in passing down the stories of their lives and the lives of their ancestors. Whole libraries of verbal knowledge gone forever.

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If we pay attention though, we find our past is written in our DNA, reflected on our bodies. Since we don’t have a designated “holiday” for paying attention to our ancestors, this Memorial Weekend I will honor the people who fought for my life, the forebears who made their contributions to this wild planet fighting everyday wars without the support of tax dollars or military uniforms or propagandistic politics.

Here’s to a new summer holiday in honor of our forebears, first Monday in August, Ancestor’s Day!

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Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I grow fabulously beautiful, absolutely tropical lush weeds! DSCN7785 DSCN7798 Fat juicy green stickery thistles; DSCN7779 blackberry vines with creamy white flowers; DSCN7804 bittersweet nightshade; DSCN5245 grass seed heads; DSCN7781 tall weeds with tiny yellow dandelion wanna-bes; DSCN7767 sunshine yellow faces of dandelions as big as a coffee cup; DSCN7795 violas in the cracks of the concrete driveway. DSCN7810

Currently Reading – Vanessa and Her Sister (2014, fiction) by Priya Parmar; 5 Steps to Professional Presence: How to Project Confidence, Competence, and Credibility at Work (2001, business communications) by Susan Bixler; Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (2015, sociology) by Johann Hari. Yes, concurrently.

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This week I have been grateful for:

  • Having the rest of the day off after some dental work.
  • The little brown bird who sat on the fence outside the aquatic center, who seemed to watch me for most of my workout. I watched her back.
  • The hummingbird who returned to nest in the tree outside my window at my place of work. Two years ago she hatched two chicks; the eggs are usually laid in pairs.
  • A friend who surprised me with a lovely bouquet of flowers for a look at Miss Hummingbird. I would have let her look anyway. Though now I love her more, if that is possible.
  • Memories. Pictures of my ancestors.
  • My great-grandmother’s fierce scowl, my grandmother’s chin whiskers, and my grandfather’s eyebrow.
  • Loving so much stuff. I am surrounded by abundance and have so much to give away.
  • Noticing plants I’ve not noticed before and enjoying some I’m just learning about, loving the old familiars.
  • A wild, wet lightning and thunder storm that rolled over my area Thursday evening.
  • Getting a chair towering with clothes and linens removed from my bedroom.
  • Throwing a couple of really dead but well loved house-robes in the trash.
  • Starting another Salvation Army donation bag.
  • Not killing my grapevine after pruning it back to the nubbins and watching it bleed sap for a week after. Proof again of the abundance of nature.
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  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

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Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: My Grandmother’s Whiskers And My Grandfather’s Eyebrow

  1. piratesorka says:

    I know I am going to get a really good start on my week tomorrow!!

    Like

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