Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I thought I was a Gypsy
But then I have the same affinity with Hawaii. The feel of the tradewinds on my face, the smell of the damp earth and the Plumeria on the breeze. The taste of a Mai Tai, the slice of pineapple all juicy as it runs over my hand. The soothing sounds of the surf crashing as it lulls me into the soundest sleep ever. The feel of waterfalls crashing over me, and the tang of salt on my lips after playing in the surf. The sounds of the Conch horn and the tribal drums and listening to a ukulele while dancing the lovely soft motions of the hula. The sad inexplicable feeling I get when leaving the islands that I am leaving home forever.
Then there is Italy. Land of my grandfathers people... Tuscany, the lovely stone villages with tiny winding streets and beautiful cathedrals. The chatter of the Italian language that always sounds like an argument, even when they are just discussing the weather. The gorgeous blue oceans, and the glorious foods, so wonderful each bite is like a miracle on your tongue. The art, the sculptures, the timelessness of a place where people have lived for thousands of years.
Our plan is to travel all over the world together starting in 3 years with small trips, and escalating to monthly residencies in other countries to really immerse ourselves in the culture and feel the experience of being there.... Traveling to new places, seeing new things, experiencing new wonders with the man I love. what can be better than that?
Then I talked with my Great-Auntie Anne... This lovely woman in the photo with me is 95 1/2 years young. She has LIVED all 95 years of her life. 4 children, numerous grand, great grand and even a few great-great grandchildren are the legacy she leaves behind. But believe me, she ain't done yet... She was the last guest at the wedding on Saturday. One of the first ones there, and the last one out after all the tables were folded and the chairs put away and the presents loaded and the catering trucks were gone, she was there, chatting with everyone. Visiting and reconnecting with family she hadn't seen in a long time. All the way to the car she chatted about the old days, when she was young, before all of us were born, when she and her 6 siblings lived on the farm, and dreamed of the lives they would have when they were grown.
I was thinking that in another generation, the family won't even remember any of them. The ones that do are getting older, and passing away. She is our last stronghold on the past. On our German heritage and the remaining member of the original 7 kids that started this now 600 plus extended family of cousins and aunts and uncles. She outlived 2 husbands with a poise and dignity and grace that is unfathomable in these modern times. She is devout, and raised her children to love God, but to enjoy life as well, and embrace all the beauty of life. She has traveled all over the world with her husbands and family, experiencing and living through things most of us can only imagine. But at the end of her days, in the sunset of her life, with all the experiences and life and love behind her, the one thing she wants is to be home... In her home... surrounded by the memories of her family. Living in the house her husband built with his own two hands, Their heir little family had grown too big for the small little dollhouse cottage he had built next door when she was his bride. The cabinets and countertops custom made for her height. Her lovely paintings hang on the walls, a home full of love and memories.
I realized in that moment... I am NOT a gypsy. I may love to travel, and to experience new things... but in the end, after a few weeks, I want what she wants... to go HOME. To be in that place where I create the energy, where my memories reside. In the end, after you have outlived your life partner twice, all you have left are your memories. But she is never bitter. She faces each new day with a smile. She says if she wakes up, it is always a good day, and cause to celebrate for the simple fact that she DID wake up. She lives each day now as if it is her last. Thankful for what she has, and grounded in the knowledge that she is exactly where she wants to be. Her kids worry about her. But she is the most stubborn person you ever met. I think the stubbornness is what keeps her going. Her inability to give up on living her life. Her insistance on walking to the hairdressers across the street every friday to get her hair done. Her simple acceptance to stop dying her hair at 95 because she is old enough to have white hair now instead of blonde. Her decision to live out the rest of her life on her own terms, the way she wants, and against her kids wishes. Still sharp as a tack,. with a memory like an elephant, she reminds me of things I told her years ago that I no longer remember saying.
I hope that one day way in the future, I grow up to be like her. So strongly grounded in who I am, that I KNOW without question where it is I need to be. That I have experienced all the things in life there is for me to do, and yet I still find joy in a visit from a family member or a walk to the beauty parlor. The sight of my garden coming in fills me with hope and joy mixed with a feeling of renewal as I watch another spring being born. I hope with all my heart, that this gypsy girl learns what Auntie Anne has learned, that home is where your heart resides, inside of yourself... and that the greatest art in life is the fine art of being human.