Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remembering Lola Alice

My grandmother holding her first grandchild. We were supposed to have the same birthday, but I finally arrived half an hour afer midnight.

Today I'm thinking of my grandmother. Strong, beautiful, spirited and gracious, she was everything I hope I will grow old to be.

Our birthdays come so close together, mine now feels a little incomplete without her around. I've always felt, too, that our birthdays come at a special time of year - maybe because they always fall somewhere around the start of Advent, when what seems like an ending is really a beginning, and light steals softly, quietly back into the world just when it seems most dark.

I've slowly learned that thinking about death on a birthday can bring more peace and joy than sadness, and everything does come full circle, in a cycle of love and faith and hope. It is at this time of year when I most strongly believe that love really is stronger than death, and people we think we've lost are still there for us somehow when we need them most.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Blue Remembered Hills

I'm reading Blue Remembered Hills, Rosemary Sutcliff's memoir of her childhood, and just had to share some of her delicious, wickedly funny quotes, starting with this one:

My mother was the perfect Spartan mother. I have always been able to imagine her telling her sons to return from battle "with their shields or on them." She did actually try it on my father at the start of the Second World War. He didn't take it kindly.

On childhood playmates and pranks:

There was Sheila Walker who was six, and who, I am ashamed to say, Jean and I used to terrorize. She did ask for it - she grizzled and told tales - but still, we should not have fed her on dandelion leaves and then told her they were deadly poison. I see that now. At the time, it seemed like a good idea.

On etiquette:

I was in disgrace (because) I had refused to eat my pudding, on the grounds that it both looked and tasted pale grey. I had not meant to be rude; the pudding did look and taste pale grey, and I was simply giving her the true and valid reason for my refusal to eat it. But social lessons had to be learned; one cannot go through life telling one's hostess that her pudding is pale grey, even when it is.

On good behaviour:

(At school) We wore panama hats with red-and-white ribbon round them, and were expected to behave ourselves in the street in a way which would not bring dishonour upon the school, the United Kingdom including Church and Crown, or the British Empire. 

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