You must all know by now how much I enjoy nature … being in nature, photos of nature and any other beauty from nature that moves my spirit and heals my soul.
But something bizarre happened to me the other day when I saw an equally beautiful photo of nature and a thought came to me quite unexpectedly. In fact, it was a bit like being hit across the face with a wet dishcloth as understanding hit me.
It was this: my Lebanese grandmother (who died at age 94 in 1977) had spent the last 25 years of her life mostly in bed, in her room without seeing anything beautiful whatsoever. She lived with us for 20 years of this time; her chair faced the wall and she could not easily see any nature from the window.
In fact, she would walk around her room three times a day on a walking frame (due to a stroke) and all she may have seen was a glimpse of our lackluster yard through the window. Grandma never left the room for any meals at any time. She spent about six hours a day in her chair and the rest of the time in bed.
Her life was lived mostly depressed, complaining of headaches and feeling useless and unloved. Somehow I think I now understand why. How did my grandmother survive without ever casting her eyes on nature and subsequently beauty? Can you imagine it?
No beautiful sunrises or sunsets. No gardens full of flowers during the spring. No rivers meandering along so peacefully. Not one thing of beauty passed her line of vision. Maybe a very occasional vase of flowers, that’s all.
My grandmother could not read or write and she never looked at pictures in books or magazines. She never watched TV. Her one concession was to listen to talk-back radio for a few hours a day. How did she live so long though, without any beauty in her life?
I have been overwhelmed this last week because of my insight. I feel my grandmother’s lack very deeply. It is true that I had no understanding back then. I was too young to understand … but then again no adults seemed too concerned about it either.
But now, as a mature woman myself who relies on beauty all around her for sustenance, I am overwhelmed with concern, for that which she did not know she lacked!
What is the message here for me I wonder? Why has this hit me so hard more than thirty years later? I have no idea but this much I do know: it has given me a far better understanding of my grandmother.
I was never fond of my Grandmother as she lacked warmth and she was an uninspiring person who showed little gratitude for the things that were done for her through my younger years. I was obliged to help as it enabled my mother to cope with her care.
Perhaps Grandma is wanting me to make up for the thing she lacked? My feelings toward her have softened and now every time I enjoy something of beauty, I think of her and my heart cries out:
Grandma … this one’s for YOU!