Naming & Serenading

May 24, 2019

F13FFB14-3680-46BB-9E5A-09FF7CE6C6F0Yesterday I named our goats. The inspiration came from the memory of one song that always seemed to effectively soothe colicky infants when I was nannying. It was just one of an embarrassingly many number of film songs that I can, and do, launch into (without appropriate embarrassment) and sing, all the way through, word for word, with no concern over the attention (um, irritation?) of any within earshot.
So this morning I began to sing this song and then smiled at the realization of the apt title: “The lonely goatherd.” Our goats are now named Lady and Yodel. If you sing carefully through the song you may be able to figure out the exact reason for these two names 😉
Oh, and yes, I did try out the soothing nature of it while milking. Lady did not seem impressed. And I have to admit that the act of milking had a very poor effect on the audio quality of my serenade.

sitting bear

May 4, 2019

Sitting shiva. During a text correspondence this morning, my aunt and I agreed that this is the what the current season is for our family. In a very real and tangible way, in that we are sitting with my grandmother during her season of immediate grief over my grandfather’s death. But there is another level to this “sitting” that makes it feel somehow even more unfair (dare I use such a boldly self-centered declaration, considering that death is quite possibly the most universal of sufferings?). In this situation, my grandmother has come down with a miserable cough that has stolen her usual “busy Bea” tendency, confining her much of the day to a living room chair. It feels harsh, and wrong, for her to have both lost her partner of 70 years and to be feeling so miserable she complains frequently that she just doesn’t feel like living. There. I said it. Harsh. Wrong.
Father, forgive me.
This morning a situation occurred that made me feel as if someone was trying to take advantage of my hurting grandmother. I was alone at the time—the designated “shiva-sitter” for several days now—and so I called my husband to relay the events to him. My emotional response was to feel like a bit of an ass: at times I’m no good at being a good Southerner; and when it comes to putting on a smiling face of hospitality, I simply have no poker face. If I’m hurt, my face blanches visibly. If I’m angry, I glare. If I’m excited, my smile gets bigger than my face (at least that’s what my father-in-law has said, ever since we first “met” over Skype). And if, as happens today, I don’t trust someone, I show it. My mother bear came out in full force as I verbally rushed in to, as best I could in an immediate, reactive manner, protect my “cub,” in this scenario.
Sometimes I have an unhealthy response to trauma that basically entails shoving it deep within me and silently brooding. Of course, humanity being frail as it is, this leads to a very bad bubbling, troubling inner self. So today I was grateful for the impulse to call my calming Rock of a husband. Not only did he ease my anxiety by his virtual presence; he also affirmed my reaction to the situation, added his own take, and led me to realize that I was not overreacting; I had, in fact, “done well.”
Father, help us.
Let us survive this season, as a family that works together. The work is currently a great and overwhelming mountain of logistics and labor. And we are weary. But I believe that the same God who designed family as the greatest of human goods is with us here, and now, on the path winding upward to the peak. We will get there.
Ann Lamott writes that there are three essential human prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow.
Father, wow us.