Discover more from Songs of Forgiveness
December 16/Third Quarter Moon
"Verify", gift of Moon Meditations, snow plow TikTok
When I went on retreat, I carpooled with a long-time yoga friend and reader of this Substack, who told me she enjoyed the family stories. So upon my return I went into the archives of my unfinished drafts and found a few vignettes I had started and never finished. Which resulted in last weeks “silver polish” story and now “verify,” below. I have loads of these “unfinished" renderings of memory, began by me, but not continued as I have no sense of where they belong. With her encouragement, I will at least publish these languishing ones from my draft folder. Thanks so much, Louisa, for reading, for being outspoken on what you appreciate, and remaining ever my yoga compatriot.
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My sister Becka recently told me a story that she heard from Bill (Will) at the time of my grandma’s funeral. I was 9 and Becka was 6 and my grandfather was very ill with colon cancer. My mom had put Bill in charge of us while she went home and to be with Grandma. After Grandpa died, Mom called with instructions for Bill. He was to pick us up from our latch key program and take us to Mankato and tell us that Grandpa had died before we arrived, so we wouldn’t be a burden on Grandma by asking too many questions when we got there.
I remember getting into the car at Latch Key (at Jefferson school — which is now Ella Baker Global Studies). I vaguely remember him telling me why he was picking us up as we walked out the door.
Those doors of Latch Key, the steps and railing rising from a basement entrance to the school, feature prominently in my memories of that time. It was the location where someone, I can’t clearly remember who, who took the dare and licked the frozen metal only to get stuck to the above mentioned railing. And also this memory that I had written about before.
If I had been 9 at the time of this memory, my young mom was 29, and Bill, being 5 years her junior, was 24. He was responsible for a lot in that moment. (It has been a lifetime trademark of his to take responsibility in support of my mom.)
By the time we finished our two hour drive down to the farm, Becka burst into the door first and demanded, “Where’s Grandpa?”
I don’t remember this part of the story. When Becka told me it after hearing it from Bill last May, my heart filled with such a familiar gladness for Becka. My prim and overly quiet nine-year-old self secretly overjoyed at her boisterous willingness to break with the status quo.
I don’t know what Bill had asked of us when he brought us down to reunite with Mom, but I do know, because it was a constant state of mine, I felt I shouldn’t rock the boat. And I felt a deep sense of gratitude upon hearing this story for Becka’s knack for keeping it real. In this case, she wanted to see for herself where Grandpa actually was and what kind of state he was in. This would have been our first real experience with death and loss and it was natural for her to do so. And Becka is a natural at verification. Despite my kowtowing to the powers that be, I always had a younger sister in my corner who would burst through the invisible barriers that my shock collar kept me from stepping through.
I don’t know what happened next. But I do remember some things from the months leading up to this. The weeks where my grandpa, who had been a force of nature much like my mom and my sister, slowed way down. In those final months, he slept on the rollaway in the living room. One of the two that Grandma and he had kept in the house for when Becka and I stayed over. Where previously he would tuck the blankets around our bodies at bedtime until we were all mummied up and cozy, now it was he that was tucked in, the head of the bed raised so Grandma could help him eat. He was cold and in pain all the time.
At 9, I couldn’t know what his death would mean for the family, but I sensed the earnestness around it, the not wanting to cause more pain. Grandma had already gone through a lot with the loss of her youngest daughter, my aunt Susie, shortly before my birth. My mom was very protective of her mother’s grief and it seemed to me, she did that rather than acknowledge the validity of her own grief. And I learned about the existence of invisible boundaries and imbued them with much danger for me. And perhaps because I was older, they were more dangerous for me than for Becka.
I was with Mom last night while Bill went to a movie with Rachel and family. I have been taking advantage of their Hulu subscription when I go over there and am nearing the end of the Reservation Dogs series. I just watched Episode 4 of Season 2 called “Mabel.” That’s the one about Elora’s Grandma’s death bed. The community comes together for a meal while she takes her last breaths. The whole series is infused with modern day ceremony in a way that is a natural part of this community’s everyday life. Watch for yourself to see how death plays out in relationships and how ceremony and ritual help. I love the characters.
To bring this kind of thing into our experience, we have enlisted a Death Doula to help us create spaces for both us and the kids to talk and recognize what is going on with our feelings. We have done one ritual together so far. I’m sure I will write more on that later.
still plugging that gift idea…
I haven’t had the capacity to do the yoga podcasts with work and life of late. For those of you that were listening, I am sorry. Maybe there is something in the archives for you? There will be more coming. But in the meantime, here is a gift idea, for yourself or someone else you think may appreciate. Give a month of moon meditations to someone you think would enjoy it. Only $8 and it doesn’t add clutter, won’t end up in a landfill, and will transform their life and break them away free from everyday time.
Below is the post where I gather all the moon meditations into one post, just to make things simple. Time your month long gift to the next new moon: December 23, which is also very close to Solstice, December 21. Thank you for helping others find my work. And thank you so much for reading.
The Minneapolis snow plows are out
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Today snow flocks all the trees and Minneapolis feels magical. It’s a time when the neighbors come out to help each other clear the sidewalks and the ends of the driveways. I caught the snow plow traveling up my street and made a TikTok. This doesn’t fully do it justice. It’s much more vivid when the plow goes by, all primary colors in a world of quiet and muffled by the layer of padding, making way for the city to get moving again.
More soon, Tina.