“What cannot be cured must be endured”
My grandma on my mother’s side had a favorite say, “what cannot be cured must be endured”. As a child I never really liked it when she would tell me that because it usually meant, I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I’ve been thinking about my grandma lately. I have to say the women in my family have always been very strong, sometimes stubborn, very practical, and always, well mostly, no nonsense.
My grandma before she passed away left all her grandchildren a little money, and her life story. When I called to thank her for the money, she told me she wanted to give it all away before she passed. My grandmother had Leukemia, she had already decided, she didn’t t want treatment. I never really knew why-but she didn’t. A few months later, on a Sunday morning as she was getting ready to go to church, she told my mom and my sister that she was tired and wanted to lie down. She laid down on her bed and passed away that morning a couple of hours later. My grandma-strong, levelheaded, stubborn, deeply religious, had outlived two husbands, raised 7 children (my mom being the youngest) was gone, just like that.
Grandma was a child of the 1920’s. She was born in Protection Kansas in 1914. She died in Grand Junction Colorado in 1990. She married my grandpa in September of 1931 when she was 17, he was 28. She married during the great depression (1929-1933). My grandpa was a dairy farmer. He, my grandma, and the children who were old enough, milked the cows every morning and delivered milk to the surrounding community in the afternoon. My grandpa continued to deliver milk during the great depression, even to those who could not pay. My grandparents were not well off by any means, but they had food, and they all worked.
The saying, “What cannot be cured must be endured” is a quote from Robert Burton’s book “The Anatomy of Melancholy”. I never knew where my grandma got the quote until I discovered it in Burton’s book. As I thought about the quote, and what it might have meant to my grandma, I realized that my “no nonsense” grandmother never complained about anything-I mean literally, nothing. She was not always a glass half full person, but she never, ever looked at tragedy as the end.
In her life story you got a peek behind the curtain of this no “hogwash” women. As she is explaining the circumstances of her raising her seven children she says, “even though I didn’t always say it I hope all my children realized how much I loved them”. She had a hard time expressing feelings, probably viewed the expression of feelings as weakness-I wish I could have told her that its ok to express what you feel-but I never got the chance. There is another memorable, deeply touching passage in her life story. The passage is about a mother mouse. As my grandmother tells the story, “Mice were always a problem on the farm and in the farmhouse. We did our best to rid the house and farm of these nasty vermin. One early morning I was in the kitchen and noticed a mouse running across the floor, I went to get my broom to kill it. When I got my broom there it was again, scampering across the floor, but this time it had a baby mouse in its mouth. This little mother mouse paused, and just looked at me for a moment, as if to say, “go ahead do your worst”, then it ran to the other side of the kitchen. I was astonished to say the least. But what happened next was even more astonishing-I watched as this little mother mouse run three more times across the floor and retrieve three more babies all the while looking at me. I couldn’t bring myself to kill it-I thought if this little mouse was brave enough to risk being killed to retrieve its babies, it deserved to live”. The story made me well up with tears as I envisioned this little mouse braving death, my grandmother standing there, broom at the ready-but stubbornly, and bravely, scampering across the floor time and time again to rescue her babies. My grandma, being the type of person that she was, admired bravery, perseverance, tenacity, and hard work. It appears the little mother mouse reflected all of that to her. As I said my grandmother rarely showed feelings, but here, from her own hand, was a rare glimpse of her caring heart.
Now back to her favorite phrase-I see now that she used the phrase to convince herself that she could make it through anything. Extreme loss, horrific financial times, and at times, I am sure, struggles with depression. I find myself thinking about that phrase today in my own life. I take solace in the fact sometimes I may not be able to do anything about somethings I wish I could change. But just like grandma, I can endure it-maybe you need to hear that as well! Maybe we all need to hear the message, “what cannot be cured must be endured”. Meaning you, me, and everyone else will make it. Just like the little mother mouse-endure. persevere, keep going, don’t give up-even in the face or seemly certain tragedy.
“There’s something happen here…”
The 60’s hits, “For what it’s worth” (1967) by Buffalo Springfield, and “Get together” (1967) by the Youngbloods, are more relevant today than ever.
The lyrics from, “For what it’s worth”, say “There’s something happening here…There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. Young people speaking their minds, getting so much resistance from behind…Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep. It starts when you’re always afraid.”. The most infamous lines are, “I think it’s time we stop children, what’s that sound? Everybody looks what’s going down.”
What does this mean? As in all art meaning is in the hearts and minds of the viewer, or listener. As I ponder the lyrics I think of the deep divisions in our country, politically, racially, and financially. These divisions pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, brother against brother, sister against sister, liberals against conservatives. Maybe it is time we “stop”, take a look around. Really see what divisions are doing to our hearts, our minds, and our very souls.
Divisions are nothing new. History bears this out. But if history has taught us anything it’s that we, unfortunately, don’t learn from our collective past. Each new generation does not look to history as a guide. New generations perceive history as bygone, and no longer relevant. So, it is summarily ignored. Why does this happen? The only answer I can come up with is, each new generation thinks their situation is unique. When in fact, it is not. If only history was actually studied, and examined, we would see, the only thing that’s changed, is time. Nothing else. Unfortunately, because we refuse to regard, and learn from our past-we repeat the same mistakes. We embrace baseless theories. We disregard the lessons. So, we end up with the same divisions. Where does that leave us? you ask. It leaves us in an endless cycle of see, act, repeat; see, act, repeat… It is a fact, each new generation, suffers through what previous generations have already, learned, concluded, and moved past.
Past generations have learned divisions do nothing but deepen bitterness, entrench falsehoods, and leave us, (you, me, and everyone else) with a sense of despair. Despair is the last thing we need when we are already dealing with a pandemic.
The lyrics from “Get Together”, say “Love is but a song to sing. Fears the way we die. You can make the mountains ring. Or make the angels cry…Some may come, and some may go. We shall surely pass”. Then the chorus harkens us to look past our divisions, “Come on people now. Smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another, right now.”
Don’t you think its time that we stop, and look around at what’s happening? I mean really, really, look. Look into the faces of those who are being discriminated against. Look into the faces of the children who are bullied. Look into the faces of people suffering from mental illness. Look into the faces of those who are dying of COVID. Look into the faces of those who have lost loved ones from COVID. Look into the faces of those who are scared for their futures. Look deep into the faces of all these, and then, tell me we don’t need healing from our divisiveness! We must confront our divisions. Now, more than ever.
Let’s do some collective soul searching here. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of being, sick and tired. Aren’t you? I’m tired of the divisions. I’m tired of the hateful messages. I’m tired of intolerance, I’m tired of the selfishness. I’m tired of the bullying. I’m tired of the racism. I’m tired of hearing from those who say, “my way is the only way”. I guess I’m just tired. I’ll bet you are too!
Perhaps it’s time we start making the choice to love one another, rather than hate each other. Maybe now is the time to remember what binds us, instead of what divides us. Maybe, we need to remember the times we pulled together as Americans and defeated, Nazism, and Fascism. The times we came face to face with our national racism and vowed to change. The times when we felt a sense of duty, honor, and resolve to bring the 9-11 terrorists to justice. The times we collectively mourned, and still are, over the tragic loss of a life to virus (Most recently the tragic, and shocking loss of Commissioner Gary Stamper).
Let’s decide today to, “stop…and look at what’s going down”. Let’s decide today to, “smile on your brother”. Let’s decide today to, “get together. Try to love one another, right now.”
What do you say?