I met a man today whose air was 1951, and whose countenance breathed dignified humility. He was handsome, with unaverted, aqua eyes. There are men who use the depths behind those globes to captivate and seize women, but this man was not so. His eyes engaged -- but as they were designed! I was startled by the direct simplicity he communicated, and the purity of his conduct and conversation. He was in his military attire, and I learned he was an army chaplain returned from Afghanistan and had a hankering for some lamb. I was blessed to serve him. Our brief encounter tripped me to my humble posterity, and the imagined rooms in my dear loved one's lives. My great grandma Flossy McNulty was a stern Irish woman who had birthed five girls under the age of six when her husband bled to death in her arms. She raised my grandma and her sisters in real poverty, and with a tenacity that embosses these memories I've never had. My grandma has spoken of the little apartment that housed the six females, and that the littlest one slept on top of a cabinet, as there was no other space for her tiny body. They baked breads and pies to sell, and after many an obstacle, they each grew up, and out of that life, and into more sorrows that were wrapped in the joy of expectation.
My grandma inspires me, to say the least, but I've not always felt this way towards her. She's been prickly most of my life, and has offered encouragements in the form of word slaps; she's been removed, distant, aloof. Much has changed in the past few years. We write letters to one another, and as yesterday was her 85th birthday, my heart clenches to think of an empty mailbox. She opens every letter with "Hello beautiful," and concludes with an Irish poem or jingle she thinks I'll like. Our discourse is always about the seasons, fields, wildflowers, recipes, or the animals she's seen on their daily rides. She is enamored with the Potter County beauty that has held her all her life, and while few would perceive her beauty, depth, and love, I'm struck by her. It's a wonder I can think of little more than paisley earth tone prints, barefooted children, canned pears, or a ham and leek "supper" known only to a few. I am thankful for the daughter she had who birthed me, and for the simple, frugal ways I've only known by which to live.
Shame has long-tossed and furled itself around my life regarding my family. Those tawdry old taunts are growing dim though, as the banner of love spreads back out on my simple Pennsylvania heritage. I dug through the dumpster tonight with a frenetic zeal, as I rediscovered the origin of my frugality, and the delight that must have buoyed those women when beauty and hope was not waving itself about. I see my Grammies doilies on old tables, frayed fringes of her exhausted little pants, and the sweet wrinkles that are set upon a face as regal as marble, and as simple as cotton. She'll never read this post, and I'm a little glad; it's almost shameful for us to enjoy the things housed in my musing memories. I move along to the basslines that would stir her, and as she relishes a polka, I am lulled by lifted guitar glides, fiddle slides, and the cherry pairing of undulating bass and creamed vocals. I am full, and I just had to share with you all.