May 2, 1984
We meet here today, O Lord, in celebration of two events: Mother’s Day and the 8th anniversary of the founding of our Emanuel Seniors.
For all the original members who, by Your Grace, are still with us, and all who have joined since, we offer up our thanks and appreciation.
We hope it is Your will that we Emanuel Seniors keep meeting in mutual friendship and interest for many anniversaries yet to come.
June 6, 1984
In these years of our life, O Lord, when all is not as it was, and those we know grow fewer in number, we are ever more aware of our need for the sound of a friendly voice, and the touch of a friendly hand.
And just as we need, so do others.
With bowed head we ask Your help, O Lord, to keep our mind and heart free of ill-will and ill-thought, so we may be ever ready to extend a friendly hand and a friendly word to those around us, and to our own self.
Both of these invocations, written a roughly a month apart, have the same themes: Friendship, appreciation, and the ability to offer solace. My grandmother was 77 years old when she wrote them. She would live another thirteen years, passing away less than a month after her 90th birthday.
As one ages, they naturally lean towards strong, mutual friendships that can offer a kind voice, loving touch, and warm thoughts when it becomes challenging to do daily activities, and little aches and pains become more bothersome.
My grandmother, however, never seemed to outwardly need the support of others. While a tiny woman, she was emotional and physically strong, and the one to offer rather than ask for help.
In 1954, at the age of 47, she wrote in a journal, “Some children believe in an equal division of the family – the “givers” (the parents naturally) and the “takers.” My mother, her daughter, would have been 21 at the time, either living at home or with a man named Herbert Ross.
Recently, I was told my grandmother was mortified my mother was living with a man. She would try to cover up the scandal, making up stories as to why my mother wasn’t home. Ironically, after my father passed away, when I was nine and my brother eleven, my mother reignited her affair with Herbert. My brother and I were asked to lie about her liaisons
For nine years, we feigned ignorance about the cars in the driveways, man in the house, trips to Mammoth (where he had a summer and ski camp), mid-week escapades, why my mother couldn’t come to the phone, and much more.
In 1965, at the age of 56, my grandmother wrote, “Gratitude to the parents for past favors is not passed back to the parents, but on to the new children. But the ingratitude comes roosting home to mama and papa. So for your own peace of mind, expect no gratitude from your children, and try to overlook and not make an issue of their ingratitude.”
My mother was 35 at the time, and no doubt, wrapped up in her own life with two children, and a husband who worked six-days a week at his garment factory in downtown Los Angeles.
Even though my grandmother wrote “expect no gratitude from children,” she’s wrong. A person’s role, whether a child, parent, grandparent or friend, isn’t what determines their ability to express gratitude. It is the person.
And while my mother seemed to have little gratitude towards her mother, as a granddaughter, I’m deeply appreciative to my grandmother for having given of herself, asking little of me except to listen, learn, and one day, put my writing to good use.