I have an entry in Evernote titled, “Naming This Damn Thing.” There are at least 100 titles for what is now LORE and little things. I sat at the airport awaiting a delayed flight one night, laptop open as I researched everything from muses to deities and goats to find one single word that would be all-encompassing.
Email to Melissa:
Priapus – a (minor) god of gardens and fertility, best known for having an enormous penis.
Pricus – The immortal father of sea-goats, made into the Capricorn constellation.
Babi – (aka Bab, Babay) – A baboon demon who was considered a god of sexual prowess in the underworld. Rarely wore pants.
I can’t be the only person who knows these things tonight. Can you call me your inspiration?
I was frustrated that our Creative Director, Victoria, didn’t immediately fall in love with my suggestion that we be known as MJ as they are our initials and we met because Melissa was chair dancing to a Michael Jackson song. She brought her fist down in front of her face very dramatically and perfectly timed with the last note of Man In The Mirror and I told her she could be my friend.
Victoria thought it was cute, It’s a good start.
I may have pouted and felt very annoyed whenever I tore my soul apart to answer her questions about direction and inspiration and blah blah blah. During the weeping and gnashing of teeth and complaining and such I revisited the reasons why I wanted to pursue this project. Aside from the fact that writing is who I am and I feel muted when I’m not turning words into stories, I also thought of all the emails I received from my previous readership when I took down my last blog, Little Ms J, shortly after my divorce. It no longer suited me, but mothers reached out to tell me I made them feel normal. Friends reached out to say that something I’d written about loss or life or the silliness in between inspired something; a thought, a character, a moment when they looked at the world through a different lens.
I thought of the last few conversations I had with my grandmother. She asked me to see the world differently, to roll with the big things as they would work themselves out, but to pay attention to the little things and to love each other every day.
This from a woman that raised ten children and was married to the same man for over sixty years. This woman who asked me what I would do if I had to decide to go or to accept a feeding tube, is it ok if I leave you now? This woman who woke up long enough to laugh, love and sing along to Roy Orbison and Jim Reeves until her last visitor left. We got one whole day with her and I will never forget what she looked like when she held my father’s hand and laughed for the last time. Her mouth was open, head back. In the last moments everything was boiled down to the important things.
The next day her heart rate vacillated between 54 and 220 and we knew she had said her goodbyes.
Several months before I lost my grandmother I sat next to a gentleman during his last moments while he boiled life down to simple sentences. A widower, he never remarried and I’d asked him why several times. He’d always smile, his eyes becoming soft before he’d answer my youthful, naive questions. “When you meet the other half of yourself everyone else is just a companion.”
He also told me that the people who surround you before you take your last breath are the ones you should focus on in life and he couldn’t wait to dance with his Ruth in heaven. He had a successful business, but right before he passed he expressed his regret for the moments he was running after something as opposed to sitting still with the ones that asked him to slow down; to have dinner, come to the school play, be present. He missed Ruth so much I could feel it in my chest when he’d talk about her, show me her photos, her ruby lips and tight curls. He smiled at those of us who spent our moments running between meetings and building empires we couldn’t sustain. We didn’t understand what he had figured out.
It is all noise.
I bet he spins Ruth around in big circles and dips her, eyes all twinkly. I think her dress must sway around her able legs and she’s so happy to be in his arms again.
I bet my grandmother sparkles brightly wherever she is right now.
The moments I spent with both as they reflected on long lives that would not be there tomorrow softly melted away the edge I’d walked into their hospital rooms with and designed a new lens. Or as I referred to it with my family, “Grandma dropped some knowledge on me.”
Lore (noun): a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, typically passed person to person by word of mouth. Synonyms: mythology, myths, legends, stories, traditions, folklore, fables, oral tradition, mythos.
When I talked to Melissa about this change in direction she shared the knowledge her own grandmother had passed along and I’ve encouraged her to memorialize those nuggets as well. We’ve both been blessed with grandmothers who stripped the finish off the reasons why, the excuses, the patina of getting by and told us to get to it. There is no time to be wasted worrying.
Get to living. Get to loving.
The day I leave this earth I hope that I will be able to drop some mad knowledge.
For me it has been the biggest blessing, the most generous gift and the loveliest form of comfort at times of loss. It was as if my grandmother couldn’t leave this earth until she shared a few things. She needed to know we were ok and that it would be ok.
And I’m ok.
Welcome to LORE, lovers.
Sit and stay awhile.