07 May 2011

Life is what we make of it.....




In an earlier post (here), I mentioned that I was transcribing
letters written to me by my grandmother. They were written in the 
1970's, about the time that I was deciding on a college and what
I planned to do with my life. She shared her own hopes and dreams
with me and reflected on her life. 


I mentioned (here) the poetry of Edgar A Guest, a poet
that I discovered sometime last year. I recently learned, that my grandmother 
was a fan as well. Today, I found this book in my postbox.


My aunt sent me a cherished book of my grandmothers,
'When Day Is Done' with a note of a few family favourites. 
My grandmother purchased it for herself when she was a University
student in 1927. She kept it by her side thru her lifetime,
sharing many of her favourite poems with her children.


My aunt sent along a note for me to read
one of her personal favourites, 'Looking Back'.


 It is interesting, how things evolve. My aunt says 'it is a sign'. This is a phrase that comes up a lot in family conversation much to the dismay of Mr. H. I have lots more to say on that one...but will save it for another time :)

How did this all come about? It started with a Facebook message. My blogging friend, Lisa, mentioned a town that she grew up in which happened to be where my grandmother had lived. I wondered if they could have been neighbours and went off to find the letters. I often found over the years, that when I picked up one letter, I had to read them all. That is when I decided to transcribe them for the family to read. My aunt has been delighted and touched. She says it is like having her mother with her again, for a brief time. My grandmother passed away 35 years ago. My daughters are getting to know my grandmother for the first time and my sisters are equally happy to have her in their presence once again. I have Lisa to thank for this result, just one of the many joys of blogging.

I have a feeling that the story will not end here. I am still transcribing and with each page another little
mystery is put before me. Oh, the places I have been and have yet to go!

I will leave you with one of the many poems that I enjoyed reading. 
I expect I will be back with more.

Life Is What We Make It

Life is a jest;
Take the delight of it.
Laughter is best;
Sing through the night of it.
Swiftly the tear
And the hurt and the ache of it
Find us down here;
Life must be what we make of it.

Life is a song;
Dance to the thrill of it.
Grief's hours are long,
And cold is the chill of it.
Joy is a man's need;
Let us smile for the sake of it.
This be our creed:
Life must be what we make of it.

Life is a soul;
The virtue and the vice of it,
Strife for a goal,
And man's strength is the price of it.
Your life and mine,
The bare bread and the cake of it
End in this line:
Life must be what we make of it.

From When Day Is Done
by Edgar A. Guest
c. 1921

Best wishes to one and all for a wonderful weekend
and to those of you celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday,
I hope it is an exceedingly happy one!


Jeanne xxx

24 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful journey to be on, transcribing your grandmother's letters. What an amazing treasure.
    Lovely Guest poem, too.
    XOXO,
    Pamela

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  2. I really enjoyed your post!! These precious letters are a gift, and a treasure that are binding your family past and present together!!

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  3. Fun family research and stories. Happy Mother's Day weekend. Thanks, Jeanne, for your prayers for my dad.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  4. A beautiful post! I absolutely love the poem!

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  5. I believe this is one of my all-time favorite posts. Truly - what a beautiful story, and what an incredible gift you are giving your family by transcribing your grandmother's letters.
    I have a box of love letters my Dad wrote to my Mom when he was in the Navy. They were still newlyweds. They are both in Heaven now, but I have not been able to open them yet...
    Will try and find something by Edgar Guest, thank you for sharing.
    Mimi

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  6. Edgar Guest has long been one of my favorite poets. Thank you for sharing this poem on life. It's touching.
    Happy Mother's Day! ~ sarah

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  7. Oh, Jeanne, what a precious and rewarding task you have undertaken. I am just so thrilled for you. I expect I will be starting something very similar with my Dad - carpe diem. J x

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  8. Dear Jeanne - reading this makes me yearn for the days of the handwritten letter - in these days of electronic everything it will be so much harder to reconnect with our history....Happy Mothers Day and have a great weekend, whatever you're up to! xx

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  9. Thank you all for your comments...it has been a labor of love, this one. When I finish with this project, I have letters from WWI...letters and photos waiting to be shared from Mr. H's great grandfather. Sharing stories...may we never stop!

    Best wishes to all who are celebrating Mother's Day this weekend :)....I am managing to sneak in two this year. We celebrated Mothering Sunday in England the first weekend in April and my family is ready for another on Sunday. A lucky year for me :)

    Hope you have a great one!!

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  10. What a wonderful story and what a special gift!

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  11. Another great post, so exciting for your family that you are transcribing the letters.

    Happy Mothers Day xx

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  12. Jeanne:

    I immensely enjoyed reading this one. Letters, notes and other things are so potent in evoking the presence of a particular person and I am quite happy to know that your grandmother wrote letters. I would be glad the day when your search would be complete and you share with us thr fruit of the labour of love.

    I wait at this end of the world.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    I wish you a happy mother's day, dear Jeanne. Your children are indeed fortunate to be born of such a lovely woman full of grace, charm, wit and love :)

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  13. How uplifting it is to see such beautiful handwriting and the rich weave of the past through the present. You're lucky to have such letters.

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  14. Hi Jeanne - this is just so lovely and so important. This is why writing letters is so important!! I fear though that our kid's generation (and our for that matter) will never have the thread of letter to letter. Now there are just too many ways to communicate. Similarly my Mum has the letters from her Mum - but they are all in Danish. Sometimes I ask her to translate them for me as it is such a slice of time to hear what concerned them in the early 60s. I love the history of it all. Lou x

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  15. On my 59th birthday today, this was an opportune post. The words on the pages leapt out to greet me and offer their own "sign" of reassurance.(I love that you like a sign and your husband doesn't "get" it) Struggling with the fact that life is passing by ever so quickly, these words reflected so many thoughts that I've had over the past few days....wondering what I've done with my life (all the usual introspection associated with a birthday!!) As a mother and grandmother, I was truly rewarded reading your beautifully written post...we are all the better for having the chance to share in this wondrous journey you are taking with your own grandmother.

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  16. I think what you are doing is great - and you have inspired me to go out and buy the book of poems! Lana www.lifeatwildberrycottage.com

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  17. Thank you, thank you, Jeanne, for this lovely posting - you have inspired me to collect and transcribe my many old letters from my own mother and grandmother. I also love Edgar Guest and have a quote of his on the sidebar of my blog. A Happy Mother's Day to you! Cassandra ♥

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  18. What a treasure these letters must be for you and your family. Love the 'Life is what...' poem as well as what I can read of the 'looking back'poem. Hope you have a lovely mother's day.

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  19. How wonderful that you are discovering so much about your grandmother.

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  20. What important work you're doing -- transcribing letters. It must be so wonderful to revisit her narrative. Great post.

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  21. What a great time to be working on this project, around Mothers's Day. Love the poem. Good luck with your wonderful project!

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  22. Jeanne, this is truly a gorgeous post. The journey you're on is part of what weaves a family together. I hope your WWI letters are also a treasure trove. The last U.S. veteran died recently, with barely a mention. Perhaps your letters could form a chapbook.

    Have a lovely weekend.

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  23. A lovely post, Jeanne...so warming and uplifting. Lucky you, with your treasure trove of handwritten letters...do tell their stories.

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  24. This is truly a beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. Happy Mother's Day, Jeanne.

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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. Just a few words or a few paragraphs, no matter. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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