An “ideal” bill of goods
My response to Klara Jane’s question yesterday
No, I don’t think people are unhappier in their marriages than they were 50 years ago. I don’t think people have ever been different than they are today. The glacial rate of cultural shifts is only second to the almost complete stagnancy of ideological change.
We are the same. We are human, messy and ugly, brilliant and beautiful. And we crave stability, happiness, and fulfillment. Some of us have the privilege to want for more than that and see it realized. Others, not so much.
A story or two, today:
My paternal grandmother was 96 years old when she passed last December. She was the most amazing human I will ever know. And I believe that is because she chose joy. She chose JOY every day. Her external life did not determine her inner life. Her inner life was her own and she owned it, entirely. Stay with me here.
As a girl who grew up in the smallest of small towns, Midwest, USA, with hardworking parents (albeit an alcohol-abusing father), she knew how to adapt to an environment. She did a lot of manual labor but was a really creative person at heart. She ran her own business well into her 90’s-a hair salon.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized the kind of marriage she had with my grandfather. I loved my gramps, dearly. But he was not kind to her, dealt with depression, wasn’t able to keep the farm, or keep any job for long, for that matter. He was handsome and quite charming, however. He had a nice singing voice and loved to sing along with the radio to Bing Crosby, Frank, and Dean. I fell in love with these voices at a very young age, as I sat next to him, listened, and smelled the tobacco smoke from his pipe. It was a little slice of heaven for me.
However, my grandmother worked long hours, even when my gramps didn’t. She loved her work, she loved her hours volunteering at the jail, doing Bible study with some ladies from her prayer group. She loved traveling and she loved us, her grandkids. She somehow always had time for us. As a child, it was a beautiful life, because she refused to see it any other way.