Sunday, August 26, 2007

on kindness

when i found a thread about kindness on a RTA list im on ... (reply to all list for the uninititated) it really struck a chord with me. yesterday we moved my grandmother's stuff from her house at the shore. i drove down on friday and yesterday, my four boys - my husband, my son, my stepson and my son in law) worked harder than anyone ever should have to on a SATURDAY when the august heat and humidity are in the 90 degree range. the furniture was old and heavy and solid - two of them were needed just to carry the armchairs down the steps. did i neglect to mention anywhere that my grandmother lived on the second floor of her house? there's two flights of steps.... both steep; one so rickety, it's falling apart, and the other dark and covered in greasy dark gray carpet that got laid around the same time as mae west. and i guess the reason the thread struck such a chord with me was because when it was all done and everything was moved.... my grandmother said not one word of thanks. to anyone. for anything.

yes, the adjustment's hard, and yes, the decision isn't easy to live with. yes, she misses her home and her place in the world. but the sad fact of life is that things frequently don't work out the way we want them to, or don't even start off the way we'd like, and it's not what happens to us in the world that matters, but how we rise to meet whatever comes our way.

and when it comes down to it, you can be open and anticipating and thankful, kinda like a child on christmas morning, or you can be grouchy and closed and resistant and angry and you can totally neglect to see the miracles unfolding all around you in each and every instant.

what i saw yesterday was a family come together - of all different shapes and sizes and stages. i saw men and women work together cooperatively, i saw grace and strength and endurance. i saw kindness and i saw love. and i saw an old lady lying in the middle of this big, laughing, loving, expanding (have i mentioned my oldest daughter's seven and half months pregnant?) family seeing nothing but misery and something that was not what she wanted.

i will go back today, to clean and sort and set up, to create an atmosphere of love and kindness, and i will meet my grandmother's anger, my grandmother's misery, with tolerance, with grace and with equanimity. at winter solistice, last year, i told the Great Mother i was ready for any test, for any challenge She might choose to send my way. i told Her that i since i was confident that She would provide all that i would need to bear whatever burden with which She might bless me, i accepted whatever She might send.

my last morning in the house, i blessed and smudged the place and asked, among other things, for a Sign. i need to know, i wept, to my ancestors, that you bless my actions, that i am doing the Right Thing, because this is not what i ever wanted. i wasn't too specific, which is not actually a good thing when it comes to asking for a Sign, since Universal Energy perversely seems to function best when you give it focus and direction, but i was upset and just sort of blabbered on about how i wanted to know if the path i was following was correct. mostly i think i wanted reassurance that the house would sell quickly, so i would not continue to be financially burdened while taking care of my grandmother.

and when i came home at last, last night, i found a message on my answering machine, from a party interested in buying the house, who got my number, from of all people, my grandmother's home health aide, Giftie from Ghana. i don't know if he will ultimately be the person who buys the house, but it DID give me reassurance that im on the right path, and i DID get right on the phone with Dan the Real Estate Man, who told me there'd been a lot of interest in the place, and in fact, he had a showing in the next week or so, but was holding off until he heard from me. (hah - i was waiting to hear from HIM).

see, i don't think the Ways of the Universe are mysterious at all. i think the way we treat people is what comes back to us. i think if each of us simply treated everyone we meeted every single day the way we wished to be treated, with kindness and empathy, this world would be transformed. it is when we give to people we get back. my grandmother in her misery does not see that for me, she represents my greatest challenge to date in treating someone how i wish to be treated, and not how i'd like to treat them.

because please, let no reader have any doubt. i would happily abandon my grandmother. i don't like her. she has no more interest in who i am as a person than she has in a random stray kitten in the alley. she is infantile, manipulative, sneaky, paranoid, stingy and racist. i hate the way she has treated my mother and my stepfather. i hate the way she favors me over every other famiy member. i do not want this albatross.

but no one else wants her either. so what do you do, when you are faced with the very thing you never ever wanted? well, as i said before, you can greet life one of two ways...

tomorrow i will write about my Great-Aunt Katherine, my grandmother's younger sister, my godmother, and the Old Lady i intend to be.


~~ Cynthia ~~ said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy your blog, and how glad I am that you've started writing for all of us. Your writing is beautiful, your thoughts are meaningful, and I suspect you have a kind and genuinely sweet heart....
thanks for sharing all that with us.

annie kelleher said...

aw, cyn, thank you for all your kind words!!!