A Week of Gratitude


Negatives emerged lately in my life,  the events in the last two posts, two good friends with health issues and a lot of pain.  Nevertheless, yesterday, I started thinking of so many things for which I feel grateful.  Then I said to myself, I am going to work on a week of gratitude, a week where everyday I make a list of things for which I feel grateful.  Out of years of habit, I make a mental gratitude list every night as I drift off to sleep.  This is more formal, a list I write down.

Yesterday’s list includes these:

-pure water from a deep well

-healthy food I cook myself

-children who live good, productive lives

-my own good health

Today’s list includes:

-a job I really enjoy in spite of paper grading tasks

-students who make me laugh and tell me they love me–who knows whether they mean it and honestly it’s ok either way

-outside chores, e.g feeding horses morning and evening.  I cannot imagine life without this even when it is cold and miserable

-singing–after I post this, I will head to my weekly chorale practice.  Currently, we are singing all these touching songs, poems by Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda put to music.

-taxes–crazy, I know.  I recall someone once telling me he was happy to pay taxes because it meant he was making decent money and was not poor.

 

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Grandmother


We sit on the wooden swing suspended by silver chains

hanging from the bungalow front porch ceiling.

She, elderly beyond her years, grey hair piled atop her head,

thin and wrinkled.

She stays with us sometimes when Aunt Julia goes off

on one of her adventures.

Cattle graze across the road in front of the house.

It is summer.

A bull mounts a cow.

Suddenly, out of the silence, Grandmother speaks,

“Men and bulls are just alike;

they are only interested in one thing.

A bunch of good for nothings!”

Her voice is vitriolic.

And I, a child, maybe twelve, innocent and ignorant,

sit there shocked,

amazed,

embarrassed,

astonished

to hear my grandmother talk that way.

Now, nearly fifty years later,

I wonder about her life,

what in it caused this secret bitterness

she spilled just once on that idyllic summer day.

I look at her wedding photo.

She has a steady, unsmiling, pretty face,

marrying a handsome man twenty two years her senior.

Were they happy, sad, or probably a bit of both?

I remember what my mother, her youngest daughter, told me

snippets here and there.

A hard life, endless guests

never a break from gardening, cooking, canning, cleaning.

I look at other photos of my grandmother

taken before I was born,

older, nearly as wide as she is tall, never smiling.

I remember her in an old lady’s flowery, lavender dress,

thin from years of undulate fever.

I remember her feeding me bread, butter, and sugar sandwiches,

Easter egg hunts at her house,

and later, at another house, walking with her to the corner store.

I never remember her smiling.