Gratitude Sunday: Sharing Stories For Memorial Day

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.

Sunday Haiku
Sun warms bones, heats soul,
burns skin, boils brain, sweats armpits,
bleaches hair, cooks me.

Sunday Musings
*** As I write this, Portland, Oregon is suffering the aftermath of a tragic fatal incident, which took place on Thursday, on a public bus in which two men defending Muslim women were murdered in cold blood by a hate mongering person who was bullying the women. I grieve for the families of these two men who sacrificed their very lives defending what is right and good and just in this world. My heart aches for the family of the murderer for the trials they may have already endured and for the new trials they will face. I feel sorrow for the murderer as well, that he could believe he was, in any way, justified in his hate-filled actions. Remember honor and love and justice this Memorial Day weekend for all persons, not just the few in your own private circle. Nor are any actions performed in a vacuum; what you do affects the world. ***

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Seems to me like many people have forgotten the reason for the day and have turned it into the summer kick-off party, even though it’s still 3 weeks until the days start getting shorter again. I understand family gatherings; but I question the “celebrations”; to me this day is not for celebrating but for honoring and remembering our ancestors, the ones who have gone before us, for contemplation and reminiscing on the values of their contributions to our world.

If we use strict definitions, Memorial Day is for honoring our dead who served in the military, which is all fine and good; these people did an especially hard job not all of us are ready or able to step up and do. They served our country, as did every other American not in the service. I maintain we should use the day to honor all our ancestors, as there is not one person who has passed through this world who did not have their own battles to fight. They may have fought racism, misogyny, classism, ableism, poverty, wealth (which carries its own burdens), illness, injury, prejudice, ignorance, and all manner of battles that exist in this wild and crazy life.

What do I miss the most about the folks who are gone? Their stories. What a library of treasures we have in older people’s stories. My dad served in the Philippines in the late 1940s and came home with a foot disease he called “jungle rot” that plagued him the rest of his life. He wouldn’t talk much about his time in the service, though I remember him telling about the giant crabs that would walk over the soldiers in his group while they slept at night. Try as I might I only remember one other story from his childhood about his horrible allergic reaction to a bee sting. Have I lost him forever if I don’t remember his stories, only the ones we created together?

My mom served the country as a mother of 4 children, a hard working employee, a Campfire Girl leader, a Cub Scout leader, an artist, and an entrepreneur. I’ve seen the shack she came to when her dad moved the family from Oklahoma to Idaho when she was 3, a “rich” man with 200 dollars in his pocket and skills as an orchard manager. I remember a story she told me of her mother (my grandmother) being responsible for raising her mentally challenged brother (my great-uncle) as he needed individual attention, because her own mother (my great-grandmother) was so busy raising the other children and running the farm, and how that echoed in my mother’s life. How grateful Mom was when her youngest brother arrived (when she was 14), and she was put in charge of him, that he was a normal active boy.

I keep trying to remember the stories of the family and friends who have gone before me. How important is it that we remember their stories, especially now I’m losing the memory of my own stories? At the very least, it is interesting to share memories of times past, of hardships survived, of hard earned triumphs. And isn’t it a little bit comforting that somebody you may have loved and trusted has been there before you? That awful things happened to them and they dealt with it; they handled whatever crap life threw at them and came out the other end with a story for posterity. Sometimes the stories have a sad ending about something that is not fun, but the story has value just the same. Sometimes other people’s stories save us from similar pitfalls or unwise choices. Sometimes stories can help teach us good old fashioned common sense.

I am more than an hour’s drive from the resting places of my ancestors, so I rarely visit. I usually take some time to look at old family pictures, and jot down what memories of their stories the images inspire. It’s slow going and so many stories are gone. My family’s parties are so far apart we barely have time just to catch up on current stuff, let alone share the old stories of our pasts.

This Memorial Day if you have the time and are so inclined visit the resting place of your folks who are gone. Spend a little time thinking about their stories, stories you shared, stories they shared from before they knew you, however they knew you. If you get to have a family gathering skip the drinking and indulge in talking. Share the stories of your grandparents with your children before everybody forgets them. Ask the elders at your gatherings to tell you a story from their childhood; to get them started ask what they remember about the home they grew up in, or their first school. Ask if they remember stories from their parents or grandparents. Repeat the stories to your kids and their kids. Ask your kids about their stories as well. That’s how we build a community of friends and family. That’s how we learn we are more similar than different. That’s how we make a memorial. We share stories.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – It’s rose week! All over the Willamette Valley roses are gloriously blooming. Perfect timing for the Portland Rose Festival which started the Friday before Memorial Day weekend this year. We have a children’s parade, and a starlight parade, and a huge Rose Parade with floats decorated only with plant material, and marching bands, and dance teams, and Boy Scouts presenting the colors at the beginning of the parade. We have a Rose Festival Court of girls from our local area high schools who are ambassadors for the city, and we have a huge city fun fest with amusement rides and performances and art and food all taking place downtown along the riverbank. We have dragon boat races in the river and car races at the Portland International Raceway as well. It’s all so lovely and started by our own dear Mrs. Georgiana Pittock and her love for roses. Roses come in so many fragrances and colors, and they never fail to entice the eye. Enjoy this week’s range of color.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} A Little Bit of Heaven (2012, rated PG – 13) with Kate Hudson, who plays a young woman dying of colon cancer. I’ve never been a Kate Hudson fan. I checked out this movie because it had Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg, and Peter Dinklage, three of my favorite actors. After this movie I’m still not a Kate Hudson fan. * 20th Century Women (2017, rated R) with Annette Benning. Billed as a comedy, I didn’t find this movie funny and I did not connect with Benning’s character, a 53 year old single woman in 1979 Santa Barbara raising a son she’d had late in life. Just Meh for me, but I can see why some people might like this movie. * Stonehearst Asylum (2014, rate PG – 13) with Kate Beckinsale and Michael Caine, a quirky mystery set in a fin de siècle mental asylum, with both new and old “medical” treatments for non-conforming or truly ill people with possibly no real mental health problems; thank goodness treatment has changed as we have learned more thanks to science. The movie was familiar, but I could not remember the plot and well, Michael Caine, so I watched it through again. Checked my viewing history and indeed I had watched it two years ago this month. So that’s how good my memory is. * Discovered Black Mirror (2011, rated TV – MA), a British science fiction series. These individual episodes remind me of the 1950s and 60s Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, except racier. I’ve only watched a couple, but think far out, very far out, think way different, think way past intriguing or quirky, think bizarre. * Mr Destiny (1990, rated PG – 13) with James Belushi and Michael Caine (yes, it’s Michael Caine week here), one of those reliable feel good movies in the It’s a Wonderful Life mode where changing one pivotal moment in your life shows you how you don’t know what you have til it’s gone. * War Machine (2017, not rated) a Netflix production with Brad Pitt. I’m not sure how to take this movie. It has moments of humor and I do not consider war to be humorous by any stretch of my imagination, though people involved in war do employ humor merely to keep the horror of it from overtaking their souls. It also highlights one of the absurdities I have always considered to be true: one cannot win loyalty or respect from another country by invading it and imposing your own standards upon it; people just don’t work that way.

Currently ReadingThe Dressmaker (2000, fiction) by Rosalie Ham. Nothing like the novel to flesh out the story. It’s not technically summer yet, but I’m going to count this as the first of my summer reading. Fun story, richer in a different way from the movie, quirky and dark in some spots, wickedly funny in others, and somehow, the “revenge” feels so good. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. Frighteningly frank information about how the almighty dollar controls the current political administration and the 70 year path of how we got here.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The son washing all the ceiling fans in the house before we decided to use them on a warm day.
  • Getting some of my art supplies into one spot so I can organize them. I don’t like buying something and finding I already had it.
  • The hubster getting our new “hillbilly sun shade” in place over the east facing picture window. I buy those reflective heavy duty emergency camping blankets for about 15 dollars and hang it over the window. Cuts the temperature inside by as much as 20 degrees. We bring it in over winter when we want the heat from the window, and one blanket lasts 5 years or more. Cheap, a little tacky looking, but fits my budget and my needs. Available technology.
  • Remembering the janitor’s trick I learned of swiffing cobwebs with one hand while using a flashlight with the other. Corners always seem dark even in the light of day. I’m often amazed at how much better I can see the dusty cobbies with a light shined on them.
  • “Natural” air conditioning. It’s a matter of timing, opening and closing doors and windows and curtains, and having the proper east/west orientation in the floor plan.
  • Getting my grocery shopping done before I got too warm, and before the stores were crowded with the Memorial Day crush, and spending a few minutes chatting with a couple friends I ran into and hadn’t talked with for a while. Especially hearing they and their families are well.
  • My local farmers market matching 10 dollars of Food Stamp purchase with another 10 dollars. 40 dollars extra a month to spend on fresh locally garden grown fruits and veg fits right into my budget.
  • The gardeners who wash the lettuce they got up earlier that morning to pick to bring to the farmers market.
  • The first pick of Oregon Albion strawberries, a hardier everbearing berry, which we will have until first frost in October/November. Hoods will be coming soon. They are a more fragile berry and short seasoned.
  • Sharing stories. Your turn.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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One Response to Gratitude Sunday: Sharing Stories For Memorial Day

  1. Pingback: Gratitude Sunday: The Consequences Of Free Speech | Sassy Kas

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