Saturday, August 13, 2011

And Their Hearts Shall Turn

There are days and weeks that are so overwhelming because they are full of problems to be solved, decisions to be made, and behaviors to be understood. 
Yesterday was one of those days.

My grandmother, Madeleine Lowrie (1907-1998), outstretched hand, palm down, slowly waving up and down, drawing my eyes up to her kind face, sat with me whispering clues to answers to the chaos in my mind and heart, encouraging me to slow down and find some buried treasures.

Mimi was fun! She was dressed as a man here. I
think she was a student at Parson's in this pic.

"Keep looking", I heard as I poured over photos of her where she was a little girl, then a teenager, young adult art student, working artist and mother. I was taken aback and little things started to make sense.

"See how I look like your Madeleine? I was shy and vulnerable, had a flare for the dramatic and was always dabbling with paints.  Your Madeleine will be fine. There's nothing wrong. Look at me! I turned out well. Let her paint and make a mess. Send her to art and dance classes. Her soul aches for those things."

I was starting to feel like Ebenezer Scrooge travelling through time as she helped me to notice dates and ages and circumstances that explained so much. It was as if she knew that if she could show me her family's story I'd see mine better.

She seemed calmly desperate to give me a new perspective.

"Betsy, do the math. Do you see how young my brother was when he stowed away on a ship, running from memories of his (possibly) deceased  father? I was only 4 and was pretty sad and confused myself. He was only 12 or so. Just like your boy, Connor. 

"He was only a little older when he failed to pick up that trunk on that Canadian dock. You know the one I mean? The one my mother sent with all of the family documents in it? He carried the stigma from that one event for the rest of his life. Sure, everyone joked about it. But it also might have hurt his self-esteem a little.

"Can you see why he would have forgotten or just shrugged off the responsibility? 

"Forgive Connor. He's young. His brain is growing so rapidly. He cares. He just moves from one project to the next, always in a hurry for the next adventure. He really doesn't see the mess he leaves in his wake. Just let him grow up. He means no harm nor disrespect"

Now, just one more.

 "Your Kelley and I look alike and we are kindred spirits. She's about my age when I started college. She's got a good head on her shoulders. I went to boarding school, then to Parson's School of Design in New York when I was just 17, and then to study art in Paris. What an adventure!

"My mom traveled with me sometimes. But a lot of the time I was on my own. I made friends and a life full of memories. Push her gently. She's young and is out of school a year early. Give her time to grow. She'll figure it out. 

"Show her my story. She may find something in it for her. This one's between me and her. She needs to see more possibilities. I can speak to her soul. I'll help her. Maybe I'll nudge her past some of her doubts and insecurities."

Yesterday I was looking for a good story to tell. But nothing was coming together. It wasn't until I started paying attention to the thoughts and feelings in my heart that I found one. The facts that I was finding were opening my eyes to three of my children who are at different stages in their lives. When I studied Mimi's life I felt like I had a mentor sitting beside me. She got to that place in my heart where I find the most strength. One that judges with understanding and compassion. I just needed to breath. I was reminded to remember.

Remember that we can all be recipients of a promise made long ago to our generation:

"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.."
Malachi 4:6

It's quite a little miracle to me!


  1. Betsy this is really beautiful. I love the Malachi quote. I have nothing profound to say other than I read your lovely words and was deeply touched

  2. Stacey,
    It was enough that you told me that you took the time to read it!

  3. Betsy - You're an awesome writer. Awesome! Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Thanks JK! It's so rewarding to have someone stop by and read! Thanks for your kindness!

  5. Sometimes as parents it hard to see things clearly. Always nice to have someone close to us share their perspective.

  6. Thanks Jack! Yes it is, even when they've been dead for 12 years! HAHA! I wonder if I was clear about that in my post?


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