Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Right now, for me, keeping faith with my family's dead is mostly about continuing - in concrete ways as well as feeling - to pass on love and education within the family, and the doctrine of informed citizenship and service in the greater world. Grandma Anna's ethic is to find beauty in what we do - even the little things (the details) like spacing the clothespins mindfully., and to love the children always, before anything else. Grandpa Rudolf taught me that story is a powerful connector - to honor and keep the stories, always. Daddy taught me to findi work about which I feel passionate and doing pursuing it full tilt is important. From Mama, I learned to keep on keeping on, honesty and sincere apology, to know that I will stick foot in mouth at times and that it is my responsibility to remove it and make what amends I can. And Kerry - Learn and love, love and learn, and anything that happens - even cancer at 36, can be used for good. keeping the faith with those who died in wars is at least in part commitment to building a world where war may become less tempting. Also, a willingness to fight, die, sacrifice, if that truly seems the only way - but only as a last resort. I'd like to be a pacifist but I'm not. I would have fought Hitler. I'd fight physically today to save my grandkids. Balance is always hard.

So what about the rest of you. Hope do you keep faith with your beloved dead? What are the lessons? The gifts?

6 comments:

Ann said...

I DO keep faith with my beloved dead, Victoria. Dad particularly came to mind...the first anniversary of his death coming soon....during the election, when Obama reminded me of Dad in his work ethic, his honesty, his good heart and his caring...and I felt like I would know Dad's answer to things during the campaign, including, making informed choices, honoring alternate views while maintaining a level of personal integrity. Mom was a very anxious person, and I think I serve her memory by showing more courage than she was able....she'd have loved it even with a hand in front of her eyes. Gramma R was love and joy, never tempered by the struggles of dailiness. Gramma M was creative strength in the face of huge heartbreak, something I was not able to understand until recently. I could go on and on...

Mary said...

I learned many things from my family's dead

My mother taught me by example the joy of writing, the pleasure of reading, the necessity of staying informed politically, the reward of adoption, creative ways to solve difficult problems, organization, the importance of family connectedness, and faith in God.

My dad taught me many specific and practical things, and I still remember in a bit of detail the times of these teachings. How to ride the two-wheeler, how to throw a baseball, how to bat, how to use a compass, how to use tools. He also modeled kindness & acceptance & the importance of hard work. He was a person of a few words, but when he said something I remembered because it wasn't lost among a lot of verbiage.

I realize I use / have used both of my parents' lessons. And it has caused me now to think about the ways that those who follow me will remember me in time.

Peggy said...

Wow, good question that I have not really ever put together, the idea of honoring our dead by recalling their lessons.

I have the feeling that I am so much a remolding and reshaping of all their lessons as I go through life, it's very hard to pick out individual lessons--they make me who I am.

But I will try. From Mom I learned about color and beauty, the ancient history of the world. I learned about picking up and moving forward with spirit in the face of unexpected tragedy.

From Dad I learned to love questions and to always question. I learned the value and complexity of even the smallest lives and to tread gently in the world. From Dad I learned about the joy of new ideas. Oh and of course he taught me to write.

But really I cannot attribute lessons to either individually because they both were part of all the lessons.

From our first child, who lived less than a day, I learned that the world does keep turning, that the sun will come up each day and set each night no matter what happens in our individual lives. From him I learned about my own strength.

Judy said...

Wow, what a way with words you have, Victoria. Keeping faith with our beloved dead. I still hate to think of gifts that are given from our loved ones. I just want the loved ones back. I'm still throwing tantrums at this advanced age and despite knowing where it gets me. I dig my feet in and say I won't see it, won't say it, won't recognize it if I can't have something in return. Something concrete. It will take me another 60 or so years to admit that the gifts they leave behind are concrete and the whole world can benefit, not just us. When I read of your losses and pain, I learn and grow and I know it is the same with anyone's path. That we learn from each other's path and I have to recognize and honor my own before I'm much good to myself or others.
That's enough for now. As you can tell your blog post has me thinking and thinking and...

Bob Hendricks said...

Great question. I am so fortunate that I have so few dead in my personal life. I didn't really know my grandparents, all but one died when I was young, and I remember no lessons from her. However, several "dead" thinkers, writers, and artists powerfully affected me. Each taught me many things, but some highlights. One of the earliest, Socrates insistence that it is better to have harm done to you than to do harm to others has stuck with me since high school. Ghandi's "if we become the beast to defeat the beast then bestiality wins." MLK's "I have a dream." Shakespeare's give me "a man that fortune's buffets and rewards has taken with equal thanks". Beethoven's belief that it is nobility of spirit, not wealth, birth, or power that makes a man great. Tolstoy's, all you have control of is the present, and the greatest good is to do good to whatever person you are with.
These are not all, but some of the dead who have shaped me. If only I would listen better, and follow these lessons more strongly, how much better that would be!

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