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What I Remember on Memorial Day

Ours is not a military family; it never has been. Part of me has always struggled to reconcile my disagreement with the policies that send our military personnel into harm’s way with my respect and gratitude for those personnel. I have no family or close friends who have really walked that path, so I do not remember them that way today.

I have, however, had Memorial Day as a day of remembrance modeled for me. Decades ago, we would occasionally visit my Grandma over the holiday weekend. I remember hating it, because we’d go out to the cemetery, and as a small child it had no meaning for me; it was just creepy and boring.

But it meant a lot to Grandma. She had parents, a husband, and both infant and adult siblings to visit. There were probably others – friends, extended family – of whom I still know nothing. I wish I’d had the opportunity to go with her and hear her stories once I was old enough to appreciate them.

Instead, today I remember her, more than twenty-one years gone, and wish I could visit her stone to lay some flowers there. We never got to see her more than once or twice a year, separated as we were by an eight-hour drive, yet she had a profound influence on the person I am today.

So thank you, Grandma. I love you. I miss you. I remember you.

For a Rainy Day

Everybody, no matter what they do, needs a few tidbits to pull out and examine on a rainy day. What keeps you going when the going gets tough? When you feel like nothing is working, and you inevitably reach the point where you question whether or not it’s all worth it, what do you do? How do you move forward?

When I was teaching, I’d go back to a few specific emails I’d squirreled away in my “Warm Fuzzies” folder. For every student who hated my guts because I was holding them to a high standard and they didn’t see the point of me or my course, there was another who felt I was helping them to become a better student and opening their minds to a broader world. Re-reading those latter students’ messages kept me sane, on track, and off the emotional scrap heap.

Today I’ve had what I hope is the first of many such warm fuzzies as an author.

My church is part of a liberal faith tradition (Unitarian Universalist). Last fall, I submitted my first short story to our annual literary journal; it was accepted and has been published. During coffee hour at church this morning, someone actually sought me out and proceeded to tell me how much she liked “the tree story.”

On those awful days when I think what I’m writing must be utter crap, and no one but close friends and family will ever pick up the book I’m writing (and then, only out of obligation), having a memory like that on which to draw will be invaluable. I can do it. The world I’m building does appeal to more than just me. And maybe – just maybe – some day I can have another of those moments with someone I’ve never met except in the pages of my book.

Isn’t that thought just a ray of sunshine?