Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Game of Life and the Importance of Words

This morning as I was waiting for my bagel to finish toasting, I began to have a free floating memory rush back to me. I do that sometimes...I don't have to be thinking about anything in particular (especially in the morning) and sometimes, I will be reminded of a memory from long ago. Today was no exception.

I began to think about my grandmother. Not my maternal grandmother who I absolutely adored, but my paternal grandmother. I didn't know her very well because of...well...there were alot of family dynamics going on and she wasn't that interested in my father or his family. As a result, we knew of her, I remember visiting her exactly 3 times during my childhood. She offered my sister and I a Coke and we were to drink one and be quiet. And, we did.

I have to admit, I didn't much like her. She rarely remembered my name and stared at me when my father's guilt outweighed the strength of his shoulders. We sat....drinking that one Coke...being quiet....listening to the grandfather clock tick away the minutes in her musty home. Why do I remember this? I don't know exactly. I guess because I was remembering a quote that popped into my head.

The third visit to my grandmother was not pleasant. She was dying and my father was attending to her along with his sisters. I sat in the living room alone listening to her illness and drinking my one Coke. Until I spotted a small white box by her easy chair. It was filled with quotes. For someone who seemed so angry, resentful and callous obviously read these jewels as she began each day. I discovered her secret.

Did I have different feelings about her in the end? No. she was distant either by design or determination. But it did convince me that this distant and angry woman struggled each day. And, her refuge was in a small white box. Yet, it was like watching someone being thrown a life preserver and they keep reaching and never grasp it even though it is floating right in front of them. You've known people like that, haven't you? So, I thought I would share some favorite quotes of mine in memory of the stranger known as my paternal grandmother.

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
-- Katharine Hepburn

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.
-- Dalai Lama

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.
-- Mary Tyler Moore

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
-- Erica Jong

You never find yourself until you face the truth.
-- Pearl Bailey

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Henry Travers (Clarence): Remember George, No man is a failure who has friends.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch): If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.
-- George Carlin

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.
-- William Shakespeare

If you don't get lost, there's a chance you may never be found.
-- Author Unknown

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
-- e.e. cummings

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
-- Albert Einstein

All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with white carpet is one of them.
-- Erma Bombeck

Carpe Diem (Seize the day)
-- Horace

You can't hold a man down without staying down with him.
-- Booker T. Washington

Quotes from "A River Runs Through It" Norman MacLean
Long ago, when I was a young man, my father said to me, "Norman, you like to write stories." And I said "Yes, I do." Then he said, "Someday, when you're ready you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why."

Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.

More Musings Later-

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