Sunday, November 7, 2010

Simple Gifts

Today, I celebrate my twenty-first birthday. It's a milestone that traditionally marks one's passage into full adulthood. And today, as in other birthdays gone by, a melody from the past flows from my memory and fills my consciousness. My late beloved grandmother was the Anglo member of our Japanese-American family clan. She brought a Yankee sensibility to the family. The story of my grandfather and grandmother is very moving. My grandfather came back from the war in Europe missing one leg and met his future bride, a hospital volunteer. He had the face of our wartime enemy; but, his wound was a badge of courage and of devotion to country. Grandmother said that she could only love a brave man. She was also brave because such a thing was just not done in those days. She lost much, but said she gained so much more. Grandmother  loved to play the piano and entertain us with her lovely voice in song. She would sing show tunes and songs of worship. On Thanksgiving, on Christmas, and on the birthdays of her grandchildren, she would always end her repertoire with Simple Gifts, an old Shaker tune, her favorite. To us, it became a standard that defined these holidays and celebrations. And, for me, Simple Gifts became my birthday song. So on this day, as on all my birthdays, my thoughts go to the simple gifts that I have been so blessed to receive. The Love of God. The Love of Family. The Love of Friends. They are simple gifts; but, how sublime they are. And my thoughts go to my grandmother and how her song stirs such reflections. And I know that this was her purpose and her gift to me. A simple gift; but, oh how sublime.

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