I have found that mindfulness practice allows me to be present to life. I welcome this life even as I complete yard work. Watching the thoughts and emotions move and change as the body moves and works.
This summer day, as I weed whacked around the cabin, I found myself appreciating the task. Over the years, I have often made yard work a burden. Today as I moved back and forth, I just moved back and forth mowing down grass and weeds. Then, I watched thoughts about my Grandma Lucy appear and stay for a while. We call this house in Vermont “the cabin” in memory of her and my Grandpa and their true cabin in the mountains of Southern California. It was where I first saw snow, learned about the tenacity of squirrels, and walked in nature. As a kid, I loved sitting on the porch swing at the cabin smelling mountain air instead of seeing city smog.
We bought this cabin with my inheritance after Grandma Lucy died. She was a presence in our family. A 4 foot 10 inch matriarch that did not so much reign as bind us all together. Her family was far flung and she knew, maintained contact, and kept us all together over the years as we continued to spread out. In reflection she was a unique combination of Minnesota stoicism and California optimism that held her together as she outlived two husbands and her son (my father). In the end, she outlived all her siblings, most of her former coworkers, and many others. Later, when I would find an excuse to see her, she would tell me about her life. She once told me that she loved her mother so dearly and missed her each and every day, even though my Great Grandmother had died more than twenty years earlier.
When Grandma Lucy was dying she did not want us to fly out. It was who she was and I respected her death just as I had respected her life. It was this time of year in the heat of summer that my sister and I arrived to make her funeral arrangements and to walk through her life as we packed up her house. We laughed and cried through memories of our little Grandma that lived so large in our lives.
I took my time weed whacking. When I was done for the day the patches of green looked good and right. I sat on the porch to rest with my wife and watched my thoughts move to her as we shared our day’s work. I miss my Grandma each and every day.