“Grateful Living”

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Here in the summer of 1948 my 18 year old Aunt Cary holds me in the hammock at my grandparents’ farm in the country. It is a simple moment, no celebration going on, no one’s birthday or anniversary, no party clothes, no fireworks or lavish food spread. It is, in fact, the kind of moment that makes up most of our lives.

In her book “Radical Gratitude,” Mary Jo Leddy doesn’t suggest that we need to be content about every aspect of our lives. We can want to live in a safe neighborhood, with adequate food and shelter. We can want to feel better when we are ill. We can find fault with the people around us and with ourselves. But her main point is that we are missing the moment by moment chances to be grateful. For life. For family. For friends. For the sunshine. For the earth under our feet. Being alive is, after all, a rare gift, one often overlooked in our quest for more, better and different.

In a summer seventy years later, I am grateful for my aunt taking the time to just sit on the hammock with me. I have missed her every year since she took her life in 1969. She lost her struggle with a later onset mental illness. But for that afternoon we shared the joy of each others’ company. And I am glad we did.

17 thoughts on ““Grateful Living”

    1. She was bipolar when they still called it manic depression. Of course they had no tools for it except the mental hospital which was awful. I am really challenged by the book. While she is Catholic, she addresses all of us in North America. And maybe Wales too?

  1. Beautiful memories. It was the struggle to live that created simple memorable like this. I will check the library for her book. Mental disorder is a challenge even with all the medication and therapy, speaking for myself.

  2. There are so many little things we take for granted in our life. Sometimes, I find myself remembering the strangest things with a smile. Inconsequential memories with no celebration, like you noted here, but which make me smile anyway. Just fond little memories.

    I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. Suicide is not something that has ever touched my family as far as I know, although I have spoken about the fact that the one incident was almost me.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am struck with how many regular occasions are lovely. For instance, I had a wonderful Saturday morning shopping for shoes with my daughter and grandkids. Who would have thought?

      1. Last night, I came home in a bad mood after a family member decided to start a one-sided shouting match with me in my car while I dropped her home. As always, my cat realised something was wrong and would not leave my side until I woke in the morning in better spirits. The brief moment of sitting in bed, stroking his fur, while he looked up at me with worry and curiosity on his little face was lovely. Perhaps not an ordinary moment in it’s entirety, but that brief moment was. I love my cat. Truly. *happy tears every where*

        1. Oh, I’m beginning to realise that now. That defensive driving class I did for my insurance said you should never drive around with anyone who makes you mad, because angry driving is impaired driving.

          Shadow is a sweetheart. He cures all my ills. It’s even more special because as a semi-feral these are not behaviours he’s “supposed” to have.

  3. For the most part I’m pretty content with my life, and I get the impression that you are too. And it’s nice that you even address the times you spent with your aunt. I agree that being alive really is a gift. It’s great to read it from someone else’s blog on occasion.
    I really enjoy your photos. I think maybe you said that maybe it was your mother or father that was handy with a camera? That’s a very nice shot of you two.

    1. This one was taken by my grandfather. At that time my parents were in Oregon looking for work. Thanks for sharing my contentment at life. Thanks for appreciating my posts, too.

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