Teach me to love generously and to find infinite joy in sharing. Enable me to bring out the best in others and to project my love into the world. ~ Prayer to St. Valentine
It’s been awhile since I’ve blazed through a book in one sitting. On a recent outing, I picked a new memoir, How to Love an American Man. At first glance, I figured I’d skim the back cover and move on to the next book. Despite what the title may lead to you believe, this was not a self-help or how-to book. As I flipped through, I was intrigued. The book came home with me. Once I settled in, I was captivated. For me, it’s one of those books that articulates things that I have struggled to say with clarity, it feels as if I’m speaking/listening to a friend. It came at the perfect time, really.
Much of the story focuses on the relationship between the author and her grandmother and the wit and wisdom that is shared between them. Of course, it led me to think of my own grandmothers and the great memories we have shared. I shared the first 13 years of my life with my mother’s mother. She was exceptionally intelligent, a woman of quiet strength and courage. She radiated grace, joy and elegant beauty. And she understood and appreciated my quirky humor – I can still hear her laugh.
I am blessed to still enjoy the company of my father’s mother. She and I share a love of feeding people and preserving memories with photographs. She is a woman of independence and strength, always armed with a good story and ready for a laugh. In a seemingly serendipitous way, I picked up this novel one day prior to her suffering a stroke. With such events, we are often led to reflect on our memories with our loved ones and hope that there will be more to share. It has been a struggle to be so far away from my family and friends, especially during a time like this. I wish to be an encourager, a support, armed with baked goods and dinners, tissues, flowers and hugs. But that’s hard to do when I’m 1200 miles away. The future is uncertain. (As always, right?)
There’s always a silver lining. And today, it’s this: I think I’ve finally given up the battle of fighting my circumstances. It’s been a long time coming, but after 13 months in Pensacola, I’m not fighting it anymore. This line from the book struck a chord with me: “Maybe the secret to fulfillment is to stop wondering what we’re lacking; to stop seeking love and instead to start accepting ourselves and loving the people we encounter.” That line shouted to me. Yes, yes, yes. This is what my mind kept repeating for all these months, but my heart resisted. There is so much in life that is out of our control. And that’s a hard thing to accept.
My life is truly blessed, fulfilled. Every need is met, along with most wants and desires, too. And I am so very thankful. There is much to be learned from those that share this world with us, whether it be our grandmothers, neighbors or friends.