In January of 2013, I taught a short series of classes on Changing Attitudes. Looking back at my journal, I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn the lessons I was trying to teach, considering that judging by some of my recent entries here, I’m still more critical and more of a complainer than I should be. The titles of the lessons are convicting without even touching the scripture or meat of each one:
Changing “complaining” to “thankful;”
“critical” to “loving;”
“coveting” to “contentment;”
and “doubt” to “faith.” This is all harder than it sounds. It seems like everytime you climb three rungs on the ladder of virtue, you get knocked back down at least one. For example, little did I know as I journaled my notes and details of the above on the 8th of January, that my grandmother would leave us at the age of 99 by the end of the month.
She was born ten years after the Wright brothers first took flight and one year before WWI began; she was a teenager in the great depression and due to the death of her mother, found herself raising her 6 younger brothers. During the worst part of the depression, they all came down with measles at the same time, and she got them through it. Talk about a story with a strong female lead… this was one.
Emogene Hicks married Raymond Keathley in 1934 and about 7 years later the nation was traumatized but mobilized when Pearl Harbor was hit, drawing us into WWII. (That was back when more people were taught how to turn trauma into mobility) Four of her brothers, that she raised, now went to war. She heard about the use of the atomic bombs by radio, because she didn’t have a tv until 10 years later. It was four years after that that Alaska and Hawaii became states.
As if she hadn’t seen enough already, it was shortly after that that the civil rights movement started, and now that her brothers had made it safely through the war, by some stroke of coincidence, she was at home worrying about my grandfather as he was in Dallas when Kennedy was shot and in Memphis when MLK Jr. was shot.
I learned some things about attitude maintenance from her. I knew her for about four decades. She taught me, and my mom before me, what faith in God looked like, how to deal with hard questions and doubts, and she is who taught me to use the word “crap” and that I shouldn’t step in it. She was a sarcastic, funny woman, and I enjoyed her while she was here.
Her death was followed by the death of another friend, in a motorcycle accident. He went down, had a brain surgery, and didn’t make it.
All this makes me think of a line from a “Cowboy Junkies” song: “Grief is a word to describe the absence of feeling.”
Life is a big bowl of contradictions and enigmas and paradoxes and such, isn’t it?
The best way to deal with death is to live.
I note this because of the fact that my very next entry in my old journal is an account of a motorcycle trip to Florida.