Meditations on Gratitude – Family
Our gratitude for family is often complicated. It’s a mixed bag of appreciation and contradictory emotions. This blend is the product of proximity. We are witness to the best and worst of our close family members. One thing that can be said is that gratitude towards family is complex and authentic.
My grandmother is a perfect example. A strong conservative woman who grew up in the depression, she threw herself at problems and into personal battles. She spoke her mind and was abundantly kind. She had powerful prejudices yet a towering intellect. Most of all, she was a teacher.
With Grammy, there was always a walk. There were trillium and crawfish; Shoes lost in the spring mud; milkweed and the eternal quest for monarch caterpillars; trips to Lexington gardens and the stars.
Winter and the holidays brought politics and ethics; William F Buckley and the entitled Jews and niggers; freedom and responsibility. She carried the lessons of the twentieth century in her heart and on her face. In her perfections and imperfections was a riddle about how love and the world intertwine.
The riddle went like this:
Do as I say, not as I do. Say cats without kittens.
Grammy was both my strongest influence and a complicated bundle of love and bigotry. In her there was an example to follow and one to vilify. In both regards she made me a better person.
When I breathe in, I breathe it all in
When I breathe out, I breathe out gratitude
When I breathe in, I taste the bitter with the sweet
When I breathe out, I notice my own inclinations
When I breathe in, I accept forgiveness
When I breathe out, I give myself