Saturday, February 5, 2011

These things are for remembering...

I had some catching up to do in my Bible reading calendar today. After I was finished, I found myself writing this in my journal...

"I read a lot, today, about [leaving Egypt] and the laws given to Israel. I was struck by the emphasis on 'remembering' throughout the generations. We no longer take the time to remember - as Christians, as Americans, as humans. We are so obsessed with the present that we avoid the past and ignore the future. These things are for remembering..."

We have been reading The Devil's Arithmetic in class the past few weeks. A book about the Holocaust in which past, present, and future all collide. Hannah, a young Jewish girl, is transported from a present-day celebration of the Passover with her family to 1940s Poland. While preparing for and practicing the Passover, Hannah doesn't want to remember, she doesn't understand why they have to eat bitter herbs while her friends are eating jelly beans.

Several chapters later, after being loaded into trucks by German soldiers, about to be sick, the taste in Hannah's mouth reminds her of those herbs. "And those were for remembering..."

It isn't until she experiences her own bitter experiences in the camps that she can appreciate the past of her heritage and her is in remembering the past that she appreciates the present.

It was with all of those thoughts running through my mind that I walked into my room and caught sight of my Grandmother's picture hanging above my bed...

...the woman I never really understood, and yet, the one I wish I would have had an opportunity to get to know better.

My Grandmother died of cancer just before my 13th birthday, so my memories of her are childish ones, full of things I didn't understand or appreciate until I was older...

I didn't understand why we only ever got a dollar bill in a card for our birthdays, or why our Christmas gifts were almost always something she had made herself....I didn't understand that the only money she had for these things was what she could save from the household expenses.

I didn't understand why we always had the same meal (which I hated) at their house...pan-fried chicken, lettuce with Miracle Whip and pepper, and corn she had canned herself...I didn't understand that was her favorite meal and the only time my Grandfather let her fix it was when they had company.

I didn't understand why my friends got to do cool things with their grandparents and I spent my time learning how to thread a needle, sew quilt pieces together (never quite got the hang of that), and follow a pattern...I didn't understand she was giving us part of herself.

I didn't understand why she would marry someone like my Grandfather, stay married to someone like my Grandfather...I didn't understand just how much she valued family and was willing to sacrifice for them.

I didn't understand, but these things are for remembering...


  1. Wow, this made me start thinking about my grandparents and the things that they did. I never really thought about it until today, thank you Maryanne.

  2. Maryanne, I also wonder about those things too. Like, I never understood why the older kids always received a toy for Christmas and the little ones would only receive a pair of gloves. My Mom would tell me that she she only had the money she could make from selling her quilts to buy presents for all the grandchildren and it made her happy that she was able to afford to buy something for all of us. I never understood why she was never allowed to leave the house on her own except to walk across the street to visit Aunt Sarah. I remember walking with her to feed the kittens in the chicken coup behind the garage. It amazed me how fast she could say kitty, kitty, kitty! I practiced that until I was able to do it that fast and now my kids look at me like that(thank you Grandma). She would always tell us to never let the kittens escape from the coup because if their dog Smokey ever caught the kittens he would drown them in a bucket of oil, but she was never allowed to put a lid on the bucket. I never understood when we would eat dinner we had to eat everything first and then we could drink our water, but only when we were done eating. I never understood why Grandma had to find home remedy's from the Readers Digest to heal herself if she was feeling poor, instead of just going to the doctor. Until I found out she wasn't allowed to go the doctor. I never understood and never will understand why she remained married to him. That's what I call him.. HIM. He doesn't hold a special place in my heart like a Grandfather should. I can't forget how he treated her in her own home, how he made her feel about herself, and all the terrible things he's done. She always tried to hold her loved ones close, that was very important to her. I will always love her and hold her close to my heart. I don't have a lot of memories, but I do have one. When we would spend the night at her house she would always tuck us into the big beds upstairs. There would be so many blankets on the bed it would hold us tight to the bed to the point we couldn't move. I will always remember that. I only wish I could have gotten to know her better. I love you Grandma. I didn't know how to post this, so I posted under anonymous. I will be honored to say that I am her Grand Daughter Niki Heinzeroth Elliott.