|My aunt Edith, grandmother Dorothy, her mother and grandmother|
The picture shows four generations. I never knew my Aunt Edith, because she had been disowned by my grandmother years before I was born. I never learned the story about what happened, because my grandmother would never speak of it. I am named after her: she was Dorothy Billings in this picture. She also never allowed us to call her Grandma; we always called her "Mommy," which is what Daddy called her as well. If I had not been told that I was named after her, I would never have learned it from her, I suspect. She was a hard woman, and I don't think she knew the meaning of forgiveness.
My mother was afraid of her. I guess everybody was, now that I think of it. Mama didn't want to name me after her, but I was the first grandchild, and Mommy went into the hospital records office and wrote her name in on my birth certificate. You can see that it's written in at a slant in a different hand. Mama was going to call me "Jan" with no other name, but it gave Mommy a chance to correct what she saw as an oversight. You could say that my mother was furious, and it is the reason I've never been called by my first name. Years ago I decided to write my name using my first initial, in honor of the cheeky woman who named me so long ago, and after awhile I simply removed the period and smooshed it together with my middle name.
I also never knew my grandfather. Daddy used to tell the story of standing at the window of their home, when he was twelve, and watching his father walk down the path, out of his life, knowing he would never see him again. Actually, he did see him once more: he and his brother Jack decided to find their father, who was living as a hermit in the hills of California. They learned that he showed up at the local bar every now and then, and they tracked him down. I think they spent some time with him, but the memory is hazy; who knows what actually happened? In my mind I see the three of them drinking together and telling tales, probably never talking about the one woman who bound them together.
My paternal grandfather died of exposure. Apparently he was found on a mountain ledge, having fallen and broken his leg, unable to get up or down. He was found long afterwards, I suspect. All of these memories are lost in the fog of time, but some things you don't forget. He must have been older, and who knows what really happened out there in the wilderness? Maybe he just decided his time had come.
Of course, "older" is now in a different category for me, now that I'm actually there myself. Funny how old seventy once seemed, and now when I read that someone has died who is in their seventies, I tend to think of their demise as premature. But the Bible talks about the length of our life as being "threescore and ten," (King James version: Psalm 90:10: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.")
I am now older than either of my parents ever reached: they both died of heart disease in their sixties. Daddy was 62 and Mama was 69. I sometimes wonder how long they would have lived if statins were in use then as they are today. I and every one of my siblings take statins, and we have for many decades, having been born with a strong tendency towards high cholesterol. Just the other day somebody told me that longevity comes from having chosen the right parents; if that is true, I'm living on borrowed time. My sister Norma Jean and I both struggle to keep our cholesterol under control, even with statins. Our "good" cholesterol is high, though; Norma Jean's is higher than I've ever heard before: over 100! Mine runs in the mid-70s, with "normal" being 40–60. That kind of cholesterol is protective, so my doctor doesn't seem to be worried about the fact that the total numbers are a bit higher than he'd like. I'm glad he's not treating me with a higher dose of statins.
I'll be having my annual doctor visit this month, before I fly off to Florida to spend nine days with Norma Jean in early February. I carefully made sure I wouldn't be missing a favorite Thursday hike when I made my plane reservations. Because I will be going from one coast to the other, I'll lose three hours during my two flights, and I must catch a very early flight out of SeaTac. It will seem to be a very long day, even without those three hours. Of course, I'll get them back when I return home, and that WILL be a very long day. I find it's much easier for me to travel east than it is to travel west. Do you feel the same?
Well, I guess I've rambled on long enough, and it's now time for me to start my Sunday. I'm looking forward to "Downton Abbey" returning this evening, and I'm reading a really good book: "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating." It's another one of those books that came from the library after putting it on hold, recommended by one of my blogging friends. It's really lovely, so I'll finish that today as well. I hope you will find yourselves surrounded by love and peace this week, until we meet again.