Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bits & Bytes: Stuff I’ve learned Through The Years


~~You really can’t take it with you. All the old adages apply, we come into this world alone with no possessions, and we leave this world alone with no possessions. I witnessed this truth first hand. As my father’s Alzheimer’s progressed, his belongings were whittled down as his circumstances were reduced to match his disability, bit by bit, until he entered hospice, where he was allowed a picture frame on a night table, his toothbrush. Things that had been so important to my father held little or not interest to members of the family, (I could only keep so much), consequently I reluctantly ended up donating many of his treasures to charity. I grew to view the accumulation of stuff differently. 

~~ Corny as it sounds, (we've become so jaded in this day and age), just about everyone's motivated by love, excluding true sociopaths. Without love, dreadful deficits eat away a person’s force. Without love, a person may be reduced to focusing inward and into a self-centered exile that can lead to narrow-mindedness. Connecting is crucial. We need other people. Unless you’re a monk, studied in methods of meditation that hook you up to the universal source of all love, you need interaction. You know you do. When Dad was in memory care I observed the residents that rarely had visitors. Their eyes told the whole story. I saw much more than loneliness in those eyes, I saw terror. It must be terrible to end up that alone.

~~ My great-grandmother Catherine lived to her late nineties. I was thirteen when my dad dropped me off at her house one afternoon. We were visiting from out west. She lived in a tiny house. Over her easy chair hung a giant painting of The Last Supper. She told me the story of what happened after her mother died when she was a small child. Her sister Elizabeth fared well, she was lucky enough to be taken by the rich relatives, but the poor relatives had taken not-so-lucky Catherine. She lived way out in the country and was expected to perform many chores at a very young age. When the only frock she owned was being washed she had to wear a burlap potato sack, which was tied around her stomach with a piece of rope. Great-grandmother remembered working out in the hot sun, and she remembered how itchy that burlap was, the rashes and the misery. She grew very serious, looked me straight in the eye, and told me how grateful she was for every piece of clothing she’d accumulated since. She smoothed her pretty skirt and said, “I don’t let myself forget how it used to be. I thank God for each and every meal, for each and every garment, for the roof over my head.” I never forgot her words; a little gratitude does go a long way.

That’s enough bits & bytes for today, thanks for dropping by.


All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

13 comments:

Sniffles and Smiles said...

A little gratitude goes a long way! What a wonderful bit to take away with me!!!! Lovely post! Thanks for sharing your memories! ~Janine XO

TheWritersPorch said...

What a wonderful story Elizabeth!
Thank you for sharing it! My grandparents grew up very poor and were very grateful also for what they had.
~ Carol ~

cw2smom said...

Beautiful Elizabeth! My own late paternal Grandmother was always very grateful as well as she remembered how it used to be, way back when. I too recall a mostly poor childhood, but it certainly was a blessing in many ways. We were the family that always rec'd Christmas and Thanksgiving from charities. I now glad give at those times to others, remembering when I was in the same position. Yes...it must be horrible to be as lonely and forgotten as some of our elders are in nursing homes, etc. I pray I am never one of those. Blessings to you! Lisa (I guess I never told you I am an Elizabeth as well..but always nicknamed Lisa!)

lakeviewer said...

Both are powerful stories that mean something to those close to these people. We don't pay attention to things until we get hit in the head. Your experiences with your father and others in his situation will go far to prepare you and your children.

Cloudia said...

Elizabeth: It is a treasure & pleasure indeed to read your wisdom today. A few feet away from where I write this, my Dad is in his final stages. Today could be his last. I'm distracting myself with some of my favorite blogs while I watc him sleep. Glad I came here today! And thanks for your visits to my blog. Aloha

Woman in a Window said...

I don't know which is my favorite, or least favorite, depending on how I view the experiences. All poignant though. All bigger than bits.

Kirti said...

It's so important to appreciate all the good things we do have in our lives! Great story...I really enjoyed it...

Lover of Life said...

This was a terrific post! Being grateful has to be your foundation, because it is so easy to lose everything you value. A grateful heart always finds something to be grateful for.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

It really is shocking how much time we spend worrying and caring about things that are so irrelevant. Gratitude is something all of us could use far more of. Thanks for these lovely stories and the reminders they hold for us.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments. I have relatives visiting and I have been so busy and now I popped in before we leave the house.

Oh, and Cloudia, it breaks my heart to think of you waiting for your father to pass. Mine passed last December. I was ready to see him go. Towards the end it's a blessing when they are finally free.

Debbie said...

Very profound. I think it often does take experiencing some true need before we can be grateful for the gifts we have. Your great grandmother must have been a remarkable woman.

Kim said...

I love when people take their experience and make it a positive lesson like your g.grandma. I know people very close to me that have admittedly had a hard time but have let these hardships get the better of them and let it turn them into very bitter unhappy people. You are so right about the need for connection.

Cheryl said...

Good things to remember and think about. Thanks for the lovely post,
Cheryl