Leave as you want to be

Grandmother’s painting of me, when I was 3.

I’ve been reading Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin and came across this quote by Elizabeth MacCrellish of Squam:  “Come as you are; leave as you want to be.”  While I know she was referring to their workshops, it made me think of my grandmother and wonder, we all come into the world with different gifts and hangups but how many of us can say we’re leaving the world as we want to be, happy with ourselves?

My grandmother had a list of things she wanted to accomplish.  Write a book.  Learn to paint.  Learn to play the violin.   She learned to paint after her kids were grown and even taught classes in her community.  She learned to use a computer so she could write her book when she was 75.  She didn’t manage to learn to play the violin, though she could play the piano and sing.  This is on top of raising 5 kids, caring for a house and husband, working outside of the home, and being very involved in church.

I’ve been trying to figure out how she did all of that?  I wish I could ask her.

This is what I’ve figured out so far.

Life stages.  By default not intention, I’m sure, her life was broken down into stages.  She didn’t do everything at once.  Reminds me of the Hindu life stages.  As a child, she was a student.  Then her duty was to her children and family.  Then, finally, she was able to paint, write and explore her world.  She was fortunate to be able to live long enough to do that.

Work happily, but not perfectly.  She enjoyed painting, writing and teaching, and wanted to do a good job, but she wasn’t hell-bent on perfection.  She was quite willing to make do as needed (I mean, really.  Dad remembers eating brown sugar and butter sandwiches.  She was not an uptight woman.)

Willing to be happy.  Sounds strange, but I think it’s actually very hard to simply accept being happy and enjoy it.  It’s easy to be happy when we’re walking on the beach and all the kids are behaving, but what about while we’re washing the dishes?

Looks like I have my list of things to work on.  Thanks, Grandmother.


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