Of the many things I am grateful for today, I am especially grateful that 57 years ago today these two crazy kids (aged 35 and 44, ahem) took a chance and said “I do”. Everything I know about love and loyalty and faith I learned from them, my beautiful and beloved parents. Miss them sooo much!
NB This isn’t my photo–just my edit, and of course my story…
My dad’s family were tenant farmers during the Depression and quite poor–they lost everything in a fire right before the Crash in ’29. When my dad was overseas in WWII he sent all of his Army pay home to help the family (he was the third eldest of eleven). However, things were finally going a bit better by then, so my grandma stashed the money away in a savings account in his name. When he came home from the war in 1945, he used the money to buy the farm where the family was living, outside of Rush City, MN, and farmed the land while providing a home for his parents and younger siblings until shortly before he married my mom in 1963. I grew up in Minneapolis, but our yard was practically a hobby farm, given the ratio of garden to lawn! And most of my childhood weekends were spent at various relatives’ farms.
My dad has been gone for over twenty years, but I’m grateful for the lessons he taught me. To cherish the land and the gifts it provides, to treat Mother Nature with respect, to be observant of my surroundings, to treat animals with patience and to nurture both plants and animals.
And yeah, every time I drive past a wheat field, or see a gorgeous corn crop ready for harvest, I miss my dad. Like crazy.
The root of joy is gratefulness…it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.
Br. David Steindl-Rast
Here’s a thought to put Monday into perspective 🙂
Something precious is lost if we rush headlong into the details of life without pausing for a moment to pay homage to the mystery of life and another day.
Isn’t this the truth?
It’s Memorial Day here in the United States today, and the weekend wouldn’t seem complete if I didn’t post some kind of tribute to my dad, Sgt. Leonard Henry Resch. He fought from Omaha (“Bloody Omaha”) Beach in Normandy to Leipzig in Germany, seeing action in the Battle of the Bulge, liberating a concentration camp and oh, yes, helping liberate a continent along the way.
He never made a big deal about any of it, but he has always been my hero, he always will be, and darn it, I just wish I had told him more often while he was still here.
(PS English friends—he was stationed in Selsey before D-Day, if any of you know it? A small village on the southern coast.)
It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.
Rainer Maria Rilke
My parents have been dead a long time. Or not so long. It depends on my mood, how long it seems. My mom died in April 2007, my dad in January 1993. I often wonder what advice they would give me now, about being childless, being disabled and in chronic pain and often frustrated and depressed. Then, by chance, today I came across a quote that spells out what I know in my heart they would both say to me so perfectly, it gave me chills. In fact, I can hear my mom’s voice…
Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering. Despite the awesome powers of technology many of us still do not live very well. We may need to listen to each other’s stories again.
–Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal
Most of my childhood and teenage Sundays were spent at my Grandma’s kitchen table. There was always the smell of coffee, and the kitchen was warm and cozy in the winter, the perfect refuge from the freezing Minnesota cold outside. Grandma always had plants in the window, like the African violets I could never make bloom at home, and from her second-story window we could see the nineteenth-century red-brick Grant House Hotel and Restaurant across the street.
Some Sundays, especially when I was little, the kitchen was full of aunts and uncles and rambunctious cousins (I am number 41 of 44), and I would divide my time between hanging out and listening to the adults and playing with my cousins. Other Sundays it would be just mom, dad, and me, all of us gathered around Grandma’s table, talking: me listening, drawing or playing with my dolls, and the grownups telling stories. As I grew older, I was allowed my own cup of coffee, and I interjected a question or two, but mostly I listened, fascinated.
Many of these stories involved memories formed during the bitter years of the Great Depression, when my parents were growing up, and the World War II years, when my dad was fighting Nazi Germany and my older uncles were in the service. But although the tales they told were set during harsh times, they were filled with love and warmth and laughter. I wish every child could have that gift, to grow up as part of a big, loving, crazy, storytelling family.
The stories I heard during those years formed me into the person I am today. The tales related by my aunts and uncles and grandmother and parents illustrated for me the values that have become their greatest legacy to me. Like the importance of being able to laugh at your problems. Of always being kinder than necessary. Of not judging, because everyone is carrying a burden you might know nothing about. Of making your own decisions, not just following the crowd. Of the importance of forgiveness and not holding grudges. At 49 years of age, I am still plumbing the depths of the stories I heard at my Grandma’s kitchen table.
As Remen notes:
The best stories have many meanings; their meaning changes as our capacity to understand and appreciate meaning grows. Revisiting such stories over the years, one wonders how one could not have seen their present meaning all along, all the time unaware of what meaning a future reading may hold. Like the stories themselves, all these meanings are true.
Knowing your own story requires having a personal response to life, an inner experience of life…Most of us live lives that are far richer and more meaningful than we appreciate.
Perhaps this Thanksgiving we could put down our iPhones for a few hours…and tell stories?
Edit: I accidentally posted and sent out an earlier draft. Here is the corrected version. Thanks for your patience!