Heather Quale writes, “I am grateful for cooking and baking skills taught by my parents. The memories that flood my body and brain fill me with joy as I read recipes and prepare foods we once made together. The recipes are in their hand.”
I am grateful to my grandmother for giving me a loving home, showing me how to do so many practical things, playing games with me, teaching me to crochet and embroider, and giving me an example of a hostess who shows caring and love in a myriad of ways. She was funny and playful. And she spent hours making clothes for my Barbie doll. It is a gift I will cherish always to have had a grandmother like her.
Until my mother died, cemeteries were places I thought of distantly, even when we attended a graveside service. A part of my brain wept and a part refused to acknowledge where we were. When Mom died so suddenly, we sort of knew that she would be buried next to my father in her hometown. Even then, there were discoveries to be made. Apparently there was a plot reserved for me and my husband as well. Now my brain paid attention. The end of my life stared back at me in a way it hadn’t before. We looked around at that community of souls with an understanding of inevitability. I am grateful to have a resting place. The cemetery is on a beautiful hillside, far above the town, with a forest of evergreens providing shade and majesty. The cemetery is distinguished by a four-foot neon football helmet, honoring the long-time football coach, not far away from my family’s plot. So it goes.
It’s been eight years since this lady passed away. I am grateful for the many years I experienced her good humor, her storytelling, her teaching, her avid following of sports, her caring for everyone, especially people she didn’t know, and her capacity for love. She’s pictured here with a teddy bear Steve made for her, making that face that says, “Oh, how cute.” We miss you, Mom.
Driving in the car always reminds me how many neighborhoods there are throughout our state, our country, our globe, and how vital each one is to the health of our planet. We want all of these communities to thrive because their contributions to our well-being are essential. When visiting, we encourage conversations about what’s important to them, their pride of place, their families … and we reaffirm how much we care about each other. Strangers? Not for long.
Oh, the paths we walked together, first you leading me, then me leading you. You were the best mother for me and I love you always.
I am grateful every day for this amazing man, my partner in every adventure, my light in the dark, this kind and generous spirit. Happy birthday, Steven Palmquist!
I eagerly anticipate each of Lisa See‘s new books because she’s a compelling writer and she fearlessly explores a history which is her own, but unfamiliar. From the very first, with On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family in 1995, to her most recent, The Island of Sea Women, I am grateful for her books because they open my eyes and my heart. (She’s also very good at getting the word out and building a community of readers.)
Yesterday, Steve and I sat down with our newly washed collection of dish towels, deciding it was time to cull those that are too thin to be effective after decades of use. We don’t use a dishwasher, so our dish towels are crucial kitchen equipment, as they were for generations before us. The aspect for which I’m grateful is that so many women chose to display their embroidery talents by telling stories with these towels, thereby turning them into art. We have towels stitched by my mother, my grandmother, and two aunts. Each time we use them, we feel that connection. Quite often, the stories they tell are funny: vegetable musicians, naughty kittens, and Mother Goose, as well as a set that depicts dishes in the colors of the pottery Steve and I collected when we were first married. Those that we set aside because they no longer have a practical use will become part of a fabric art project I have in mind … their stories will stay with us.
Stuff. What to do with stuff? Marie Kondo encourages us to consider what sparks joy and remove everything else from our lives. I read books about organization like my life depends on it. Maybe it does. Steve and I are doing our best to live without buying “stuff” so it makes each choice about what to get rid of difficult on many levels. Will we need it again? I have the hardest time with “I remember my grandmother using this slotted thimble when she crocheted” and “here is an unfinished quilt my grandmother started” and “these are the favors I designed for our 2000 family reunion.” The sentimental “stuff.” Our connections to history.
I am grateful for the advice to take a photo of the item in question. Hanging on to that stuff is about the memories. Looking at a photo evokes the same memories, even the smells, textures, and sounds.
A number of years ago, a cousin to whom my mother had lent my childhood rocking chair gave it back to my mom. Her kids were grown. Mom hung on to it. When we packed up her house, I couldn’t bear to part with that chair. I spent many happy hours in it reading books. But it really wanted a young person to sit in it, rocking and reading, so we gave it to a grandma who was happy to share it with her grandson. We took a photo before sending it on its way and it DOES make me happy to look at that photo now and then. Memories don’t have to take up physical space.