Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nostalgia and what it can teach us

Our grandmother that passed away in January left some items behind for our family and among them were these:



The really precious thing about these dolls is that Grandma made them. Every bit of them. The clothes are incredible! You cannot really tell from the pics, but the detail is just amazing. I can't even imagine how much time that took. I'm not skilled that way, I am all over arts and crafts and I can come up with a project for a tribe of children of the top of my hat. But this kind of skill is a whole different ball game. 

I am simply in awe of it. I guess Grandma had 30-ish dolls that she had made and she bequeathed them to various family members; they are all gorgeous and amazing in detail.

Grandma was a neat woman. She and Grandpa had been married for 60 years, just this last November. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around that. I look forward to the time that I can brag that accomplishment, but until then I will just remain in astonishment. Of course it stands to reason then, that Grandpa is hurting badly. He's feeling as though he has lost a limb, and in a metaphorical way he has indeed lost an appendage. Again, his experience right now is something that is so foreign to me. As an adult I often times reflect back on the way I percieved the world as a child. Then as a teenager, and compare it to how I looked at the world as a young adult, gradually bringing my thoughts to how I look at it now. I can conclusively say, that I feel as the years have gone by and the experiences in my life have done their job, I am more mature and I "get" things on a deeper level than I did before, say at 24. However, in comparison to what Grandpa is experiencing, I am still a babe. What my life looks like right now is a mere fragment of that mans life experience. It really puts "a life worth living" into a different perspective.



I keep thinking of this life that I am building as what it looks like now. The reality to this effort is that this life that I am building now, will carry me into my aging years and if it is done right, I will be as blessed as Grandpa is to have such a lifetime of memories and experience to be fond of. Sure, right now there is a lot of pain for Grandpa, but I would wager that all those brilliant and sharp memories that he has with Grandma for those 60 years, helps carry him through those dark times. They no doubt illuminate his sadness, bringing light to his darkness and warming his soul to the chill of having lost his precious wife. 

I also notice that I have been spending a lot of time lately contemplating the perspective change that happens when you look at a persons life in its entirety. Grandma had a long and full life. She had 3 children, those children producing  5 grandchildren; in-turn those grandchildren producing 4 1/2 great-grandchildren; this at the time of her death because one of her grandchildren is pregnant and is to deliver in September. What wonderful tangible evidence of a full life. How much does some of this crap we deal with today really mean in the grand scheme of things? Really? Is it really going to make it into my eulogy that I was hospitalized in 2008? No, it won't and further more, not only is it in the past but it will stay there when it comes to larger things, like my 60th wedding anniversary, right?

Trust me, I am not saying that progression isn't worthy of our attention, it is. To know where we came from, helps us to understand better where we are going and to successfully gauge whether we are on the right track, but much more consideration or tethering to those past tragedies is really wasting precious time inside of this life that is worth living. Talking about having one and making one, if I am not careful, will take time away from actually experiencing it. Or partaking of it. That is the 3rd step in the A, B, C's of DBT. Observe, Describe and Participate


I for one and ready and willing to participate in this life that is worth living, because honestly, I am already living it. Now, in this moment. I am living it when I suffer and hurt, I am living it when I laugh so hard with my family that my face hurts and I am living it when I am listening to my friend share about her thoughts and feelings. What I am living is life, it is a beautiful human experience in all its glory; tears, pain, happiness, loyalty, pride... the entire range of human emotions. They are there. I worked hard and I am there. My life is worth living. All I am doing now is maintaining that worth.

The ugliness of mental illness is when that illness strips you of remembering that your life is worth living. It doesn't make your life worthless, it merely disguises that worth until we can no longer see it. Our skills keep our eyes sharp, clear and well focused on the worth; allowing us to fully participate in this life, this one shot, this moment we have. Really, 80 years is but a moment, a single grain of sand in the perspective of the bigger picture.

Grandma was one to participate in her life, not just sit back and watch it go by. She had a great big heart and shared it with everyone. I fully intend to show my appreciation for what Grandma taught me by participating in my life, widening out my heart for everyone to share, never setting boundaries or limits to my love.

If she were here today, I would say: Thank-you Grandma, my love for you is eternal.

MJ

P.S. Your dolls are beautiful and my heart is touched that I have two of them!