Saturday, April 9, 2011

2 of 56

Growing up I was envious of friends who were born into a strong family, one rich with heritage, traditions that brought forward large gatherings of extended family with tables filled with food cooked for the celebration, those recipes handed down from one generation to the next with the origin of the dishes resting somewhere in lands with exotic names, names with syllables that began in the back of the throat and spilled forward and touched the tongue in places English never did. I wanted that, longed for that and at times resented the fact that I didn't have it, didn't have it in my genes, didn't have it in my history. My history was bland. It has taken time, time for me to see the beauty and richness of my history, my heritage. I saw it today. I saw it this morning when I sat with my sister and lifelong friend and talked and laughed and enjoyed our time together with four generations of a family. I saw it in the laughter, I saw it in the food, I saw it in my sister. Later in the day I saw it again as we gathered around our table and celebrated another year of life for my granddaughter, my daughter and for me. Surrounded by our family, our extended family, this group of people who make up our lives with love and laughter and kindness and joy and all that goes along with life, we stood together and sang and talked and smiled and ate and wished for another year of life, another year of success, another year. This is my heritage, my history. It is one of rich tradition, one of joy. It is all the things I longed for, what I thought I was missing, what I couldn't see. This is my life and I am thankful.

Friday, April 8, 2011

1 of 56

Of all the Birthday wishes I received today, and there were many, in the mail, in person, via email and on Facebook (say what you will about social networking....coming home to more than 60 Happy Birthday wishes really does feel good!), my favorite by far is the one pictured here.

Yes, it is an Anniversary card. But more importantly, it was chosen just for me by my granddaughter, my granddaughter who still misses her Great Grammy Lois, my granddaughter who took to heart the suggestion in our family that when you see a cardinal you see her great grandmother. When you see a cardinal, you see my mother.

No greater gift could I have received on my Birthday than the gift of my mother. No greater gift could I have received in my life than this amazing child who now fills it and keeps my mother with me.

It is Day 1 of 56 for me, and I am off to a great start.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Grace of Opportunity

There are moments in my life when I realize, not simply in an Oh, isn't that nice kind of way, but in a full blown, historical magnitude, out of body kind of way, that I have had opportunities unlike any I might have guessed would come my way. Whether it was the privilege of sitting with someone at the moment of their death, witnessing the moment of a birth or being a guest in a home that holds only its walls and a dirt floor, there have been times in my life when opportunities have presented me with moments of grace that I treasure. There are moments in my life when I truly can't believe it is my life. That I have somehow found my way to where I am. In those moments I turn inward and remind myself that this life I lead is a gift and what I do with it matters. It matters to me, to my family, to my friends and now, (this is one of those moments...) to the people of Maine. Over the past months there has been almost nothing positive in the press about our Governor. (Facebook has been particularly unkind.) He has been depicted as a buffoon, anti-labor, union busting tough guy, unintelligent and heartless. What is most depressing to me is that so many people believe this....including a lot of my friends...people who ordinarily know better than to believe all that they read, people who think for themselves, question and seek the truth on all matters. The picture with this post is the Blaine House. The home of the Governor of Maine. A home I was welcomed into last evening for a quiet dinner with a family. A genuine loving family who happen to be the First Family of Maine. Through the course of the evening I asked myself why the man who sat with us, the man who graciously acted as our host, the man who articulated his thoughts clearly, who spoke of the people of Maine with respect, dedication and compassion, who outlined (complete with citation of Federal law) the budget, the process of legislation, the needs of the citizens of the state he governs and his admiration for the work being done, is so vilified by the same people he has committed himself to serve. I came to the conclusion it is because this is not the man we have been allowed to see. What I now have the privilege to know, to see for myself, brings me great comfort for my state. It encourages me when all other sources of information discourage. It heartens me when these same sources work to dishearten. It makes me question my opinions in the past, my assumptions based on second and third hand knowledge. It causes me great embarrassment to know that I, too formed (and readily shared) opinions, opinions formed without knowledge. That I jumped to conclusions about so many things without seeking the truth. I seek to learn. To pose questions. To know for myself. To teach others to do the same. To remind my friends and colleagues to remember we are a generation who prided itself on thinking for ourselves. I hope we haven't lost that.