I have been reading El Viejo y el Mar. This book, which I read in English in Russia, (The old Man and the Sea) made me cry. It is all about basically that life, slowly, somehow when you aren’t ready for it, will bring you low. And the best thing to bring a person low is to conquer them in pursuit of what they feel they most want and need and can’t live without. And so is the story of the old man and the sea. He is trying to catch an enormous fish. He catches it. It drags him out to sea, and he starves to death.
I was in Cheboksary, in the winter, surrounded by peasants, with a sun that set at 2 or 3 pm. And I was wondering”How did I get here?”. Fortunately this town had a small English library and I tore through all the Hemingway, and nearly started on Graham Greene before I left.
I have also started on East of Eden. I have a feeling it is going to have some of these same themes as Old Man. So far I am enjoying it immensely. It was recommended by a highly recognized English teacher at my high school.
And there is an awful lot of stuff I don’t talk about here.
This past weekend was a memorial for my grandmother. I spoke at the service, reading a very nice poem she wrote.
Here is the poem.
My Valentine to You
I dream of a day – not to far away
When our children are grown, and our house is our own
When we stand hand in hand on our own piece of land
And we can say as we stand side by side
We’ve come along way. We’ve faced days of gray
We’ve taken our knocks, and they’ve put some gray in our locks
But we’ve stood it together in all kinds of weather
But when we’ve come out on top, then we can stop
Not for long, just a minute to survey the limits
Of all that is ours, the fir tree that now towers and when we first came
Our heights were nearly the same
The rose, the arbor, the willow, the pool
The moon trapped in lake waters, shadowed and cool
I see our lawn stretched rolling and green
Our flowers and shrubs, a sight to be seen-
By the many people who pass by
To look and marvel, and sometimes to sigh
For the envy the beauty, the warmth, and the cheer
That you and I created as we toiled year by year
It’s still just a dream, but dreams do come true
The three main ingredients are,
Bert. Feb. 8th, 1955
My family is divided on stark lines between those who believe Christ is the son of God and those who do not. Those who do not have lives that are a mess. All varieties of poor choices, large quantities of failed marraiges and alot of sadness at her passing. Those of us who are believers fared much better. Grandma was saved at the age of 80 after living a life trying many different religions.
The service was a sort of witness for those who had not yet found the value of life as the gift it is from God. A man named Dan came and told about Grandma’s conversation with him through a cemetary wherein she prayed to God to accept her. When she was 80 years old. My grandma, she is still very much alive for me.
My favorite student, L, brought a paper to me the other day. She only wanted me to read the last paragraph where she was trying very hard to bring together many things, a passage, a painting, a book. The gist of it was though was a sort of question. Either we can choose what we want to fear (God) or we can go through life fearing in a sort of haphazard way at whatever thing that comes along that we perceive as the greatest threat. Whereas, if a person chooses to fear God, that person has nothing left to fear at all.
This paper, written by a girl who says she is not really got “booksmarts” really impressed me. I have been thinking of it ever since, trying to find the best way to express thesis of hers. She is a language learner. I assured her that she should not at all feel bad about not being able to express this thought, as it is a very difficult notion to express. And I love that she let me read it. I have been lingering happily on it now for days.