Reflections – Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Carol A. Hand

This morning I thought of you,
my once long ago Ojibwe lover
Sometimes I wonder what could have been
if we had met sooner before both promised to another

The way we laughed and loved perfectly balanced,
your deep and hearty roar blended with my lilting song
Colonialism molded us into reluctant wounded warriors,
our joyfulness somehow seemed so wrong

Poignantly, I remember your beauty and deep pain,
and the sense of responsibility you tried to drink away
Yet the memory remains of how, together, our carefree laughter
once lit up an Albuquerque restaurant on a long-ago,

quil rose

Photo: Quilled-Rose on Birch Bark


 Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Remembering a Time in World History

Carol A. Hand

Word by word, the story I’m writing about the past is emerging. I’m sharing an excerpt written on November 7, 2015 in honor of Veteran’s Day. As a nation, tragic events a little more than fourteen years ago forced the nation and world to make a decision that would profoundly affect future generations. A nation and world in shock and mourning faced momentous and difficult choices. Would thoughtful reasoning or quick revenge prevail? That question had not yet been answered at this point in my story…


Chapter 5 – Tuesday, September 11, 2001

When I awoke it was still dark. The stories I had heard yesterday and last week were still swirling in my mind. It was too soon to begin making sense of it all. That would take time. But I wished I could take time today to just think and organize my notes. I had typed up the story Raymond had shared even though it was late when I got home, but there were so many other pressures I needed to address.

I decided to take a little time to deal with the most pressing issues for my new job. It was, after all, what was both making my research possible and constraining me by imposing what seemed like an impossible timeline. It really is strange how life works out some time.
A year ago, I had returned to the university where I had begun my doctoral studies. Ten years ago I had been forced to withdraw in order to support my daughter in college and my partner who had lost his job.

Since then, I had mostly worked as an instructor at the university I attended and as a grant writer, program developer, and an evaluator for tribal programs and health education initiatives. I returned to the university as a Ph. D. student when I finally had a topic that I wanted to study passionately enough to sustain me through yet more classes and a year of research and writing – Indian child welfare. I had written two of the required preliminary exams and was working on a third when I got a surprise call from the chair of a social work department at another university.

“Hi Agnes. I’m Dr. Tim Smith, at Prairie University. I’m calling to offer you a job. I’ve heard about you from friends at your university. It’s my alma mater, too. I’m trying to build a diverse faculty here and think you’d be a perfect addition.”

“I really appreciate your kind offer, Dr. Smith,” I replied. “But I’m not looking for a job right now. I’m still completing my preliminary exams and my research proposal.”

“I have a proposition for you,” he responded, undaunted. “I’m willing to create a special position for you to support you while you finish your work. I want you to come for a visit so you can check us out. If you’re interested in the offer, we can talk about the details when you’re here.”

To make a long story short, I did visit and accept the position. It began at the end of August, 2001. My salary would support the costs of my research, a decision I made to protect identities. Dr. Smith had offered to reimburse me, but it would mean revealing the names of places and people. That would break my promise of anonymity for those who shared their lives and stories. In exchange for drawing a salary for the next two years to do research and writing during the fall of 2001 and 2002, I would need to teach a double course load in the spring. It also meant I had to meet deadlines for finishing my work if I wanted to join as a tenure track faculty member in 2003.

This morning, tired as I was with so many stories to think about, I felt I needed to check in with the university. I arose early and fired-up the gasoline-powered generator so I would have electricity to shower, pack, and get ready to hit the road. I decided to check my university email before I set out for the tribal community. The events I learned about in university messages would have a chilling affect not only on the Ojibwe community I was studying, but also on the world. I recorded my thoughts in my research journal…



Image: World Peace

I wish we had made different decisions in the aftermath of that fateful day. For the sake of those who will be on the front lines in the future, and the innocent families and children in harm’s way, I hope we take time to reconsider the wisdom of following the path of yet more war. It’s how we can best honor those who fought to keep their families safe. Working toward peace and reconciliation offers the wisest choice.

[Please note: The names of people have all been changed in the preceding account to protect identity. The names of organizations have been altered as well.]

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mother, I Remember

Carol A. Hand

Dear Mother, I remember as a child
The trips to New York City and to the Jersey shore
Camping in Cape Cod, and the Adirondack Mountains
Trips on boats, splashing in the ocean
Picking berries in the woods and laughing
Only realizing later that we were spared by
The copperheads that called the woods home

I remember the many times you cried
Because you couldn’t bear the loneliness and pain
From an abusive husband who knew the way to hurt you most deeply
Was to hurt the daughter you loved
But we were both survivors, you and I

I remember watching you when I was a teen as you cared for elders
And dealt with cranky staff with such kindness and diplomacy
A gifted healer and peacemaker despite the abuse you couldn’t stop
I remember that I understood from a very early age
That you didn’t see your beauty or your worth
I didn’t know how to help you or myself for awhile

mom and me off to college

Photo: My Mother Sending off to College after Spring Break – 1966

I remember there were many years when we didn’t often meet
You had your work to keep you busy and I had mine
Yet you always found time to send letters and cards
From Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin
When you returned to the place where you were born
To use your skills to get federal funding for a health center
On the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation

I remember how frightened you were to testify before Congress
How proud you were of this accomplishment
And how disappointed when the center was named after the tribal leader
Whose bitterness almost sabotaged the project

I remember when I was a little older
Driving this road to your northwoods home
So many times, from so many directions
In too many different cars to recall
Only this time, the drive is different
I’m crying so hard it’s hard to see the road ahead
I’m not coming with my family to celebrate a holiday,
Or taking time away from work to answer your plea for help
Because you’ve grown fearful and weary of Father’s abuse
I’m not coming to help you move to the elder apartment complex
Or the assisted care facility because you can no longer remember
How to care for yourself, or even who I am
This time I’m coming to bid you farewell one last time

I will always remember the love and the laughter,
The tears and the pain as I hold your hand,
Gently caress your cheek and smooth your silvered hair
As you lay in your hospital bed, struggling to breathe, dying.
I kiss your cheek and whisper.
I love you, Mother. I always have. I know I will miss you
But it’s okay to let go now Mother and go home.
You’ll finally be free from suffering.”

It’s been almost five years since your death
But I still remember…


The inspiration for this poem comes from a number of different sources:

  • Comments from my readers about my most recent posts (speak in a personal voice in present tense),
  • The foggy drizzly morning, and
  • A poignant post by another Writing 101 colleague, Rosema Writes: A Reading Writer. Her post unlocked memories and made me realize that I have been thinking about my mother’s death as the five-year anniversary approaches (October 10, 2010). I also realized that I haven’t had the chance to unlock deeper memories and cry until today.

Thank you for inspiring me, Rosema Writes.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Art of Unlocking Stories

Carol A. Hand

This morning, I was reminded of a picture I posted on Facebook four years ago
Honestly, I can’t believe I had the courage to share something so imperfect
But it was part of an exercise to unlock stories with faculty colleagues
Who were likewise challenged by not wanting to reveal our childish art.

Pick some objects from the collection,” our workshop facilitator advised.
Choose one that represents an important event in your life,
And two others that you find interesting.”
The collection included a shell, a stone, a feather, and an assortment of plastic toys.
The natural things were the first to be chosen as the basket made its way to me.
As I gazed at what remained, all that was left were plastic toys,
A reminder to me of all that was wrong with the world at that moment.

Instead of faking it, I took the risk of sharing my honest feelings –
I think I’ll sit this one out. None of the plastic garbage left inspires me.”
The facilitator was not offended and offered an alternative
It will be harder, but you can try to find an image in your mind.”
As others were busy drawing, I closed my eyes
I thought about plastic garbage, capitalism, and consumerism.
What memories do these concerns trigger?

I thought about nature and life, and I remembered Sister Lorita.
When we finally hung our works on the wall to explain our memories,
This is what I shared four years ago today, August 17, 2011.


Photo: Sister Lorita Holding a Blade of Grass

My amateurish atempt to honor Sister Lorita, my advisor from St. Xavier College for Women.
The students made fun of her because of her weight and her enthusiasm for her subject, botany.
Her words have stayed with me.

I don’t care if people make fun of me. I know what they think,
But it’s worth it to me if they learn to see
The wonder of life in a blade of grass.”
Chi miigwetch, Sister Lorita, for the gift of celebrating life.

I regret that I never had a chance to thank her
Or tell her about the profound impact her words had
For the struggling young woman she tried to reach and inspire.
Her words and example stayed with me when I worked with students,
Help them see “the wonder of life in a blade of grass.”

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections on Winters Past

Carol A. Hand

New Year’s Day, 2015. I know there’s much work ahead of me as I embark on the serious business of finishing books I began last year. But today, I remembered past winters while I took time to refurbish my old Sorel boots with oil and new liners for yet another winter. My boots date back to 1990, the first winter I spent in the northwoods of Wisconsin. I had accepted a position as deputy director of health and human services for an inter-tribal agency, but the clothes I brought with me were meant for a different climate. I needed more practical, warmer, clothes.

sorel boots

Photo Credit: January 1, 2015

My first winter was spent in a tiny hotel room above a bar that often had live performers belting out off-tune country and western songs until the wee hours of the morning. I could walk the two blocks to my office in downtown Lac du Flambeau, but the days I had to drive were challenging. My old car, with 190,000 plus miles, didn’t like to start or keep moving in the winter cold when I first started out. The pack of stray dogs that called the downtown their home loved to chase cars, but they quickly learned that chasing me was not a contest worthy of their time and effort. As my car sputtered and bucked and stalled down the road, they grew bored. Eventually, they didn’t even look up when I chugged by. But that car, like my boots, lasted many more years. I was sad when I was finally forced to replace my car, but my boots lasted despite the many miles they’ve seen and the many places they’ve traveled.

But of all the places we’ve traveled together, these boots and I, there is one place that remains golden in my memories. It’s the cabin I moved to after that first winter above the bar. Before the winter even began, I knew that I couldn’t live there forever, so I decided to see if I could find somewhere to move that was affordable. You’d think that would be easy in the northwoods, but that’s not so. Long ago, it became a favorite spot for wealthy urbanites who were able to buy up the lakefront properties that were lost to the Ojibwe people despite a series of treaties that guaranteed tribal ownership of land within reservation boundaries in exchange for ceding the northern third of Wisconsin to the federal government.

I was fortunate to find a local realtor who knew how to find the best deals and we spent many fall days exploring such interesting fixer-uppers. We became friends. One day in mid-November, she called me at work and asked if I could take some time off in the afternoon to see another property. I said, “Sure.” (It was interesting to see so many houses in need of loving care.) She picked me up and we drove, first down the highway, then down a narrow winding country road, and then on a dirt road. We turned about a mile later onto what I can only call a rough rutted path that could just accommodate a car, again, winding down a little hill and into a forest. When we emerged in a clearing, I saw the small brown cabin, but what caught my eye and made my heart sing was a vista of the lake and wetlands glowing in the afternoon sunlight. I knew I was home. I had no idea how I would be able to afford it, and I had no idea what it meant to live without electricity, or heat with wood. I had no idea how I would be able to get in and out during the winter, especially with my car, but I did have my boots (and later, snowshoes to attach to them.)

Amik Lake 1

Photo Credit: Amik Lake Lane

Living down a series of country roads, some of which were unpaved, presented both benefits and challenges. I had an opportunity to witness nature up close – the bear, deer, beaver, otters, rabbits and porcupine. I heard the powerful rhythmic pounding of eagles’ wings as they flew just over my head, the hauntingly lovely song of the loon echoing over still waters, and the howls of coyotes in the quiet winter night. Winter was my favorite time, even though it was often cold and snowy, and even though it meant a mile hike to my car when I had to make the trip to some distant city to go to work, attend class or travel for a speaking engagement or consulting job. The hike was easier in the winter. The path through the snow was easy to follow, even at night, and the mosquitoes, sand flies, deer flies, horse flies and ticks were nowhere to be seen as they bided their time for the spring thaw. Spring – mud season – also meant hiking. But I was younger then and used to the grueling physical labor living in the woods required.

Amik Lake 2

Photo Credit: Amik Lake Lane

Of course, living in the woods meant warm clothing in the winter, and a bug suit during most other seasons if you wanted to do serious work outdoors. I don’t have a picture of the bug suit my daughter gave me as a gift, although given the ubiquitous northwoods’ mosquitoes and sand files, I often wish I still had it. I still have the coat in the picture below. It’s the only thing I ever purchased from Victoria’s Secrets – it was incredibly cheap in their annual clearance sale. (I don’t think it’s any mystery why it hadn’t sold for full price.) The coat is a few year’s newer than my boots, but it got me through the polar vortex last year and with new loops for the buttons in lieu of the zipper that finally gave out, it will continue for many winters more.

ldf winter

Photo Credit: Amik Lake – Winter 1994

As I unclutter, some things will remain because they are still useful. Who needs the latest fashions when old things were built to last and carry such rich memories? These old clothes remind me of quiet, starry winter nights, of the sanctuary where my grandson spent many of his childhood days.

aadi and toys

Photo Credit: Aadi’s Christmas – 2001

Aadi & bubbles

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Aadi (my grandson) and me, blowing bubbles – 2001

They were simpler days of hiking, hauling wood, and clearing the beaver-culled trees from the road. Living in an urban neighborhood now, watching the plumes of toxic exhaust from the factories that block the sunlight on the few winter days without clouds, I feel the loss of times past. Not just my past, but the past of my ancestors. Strange though it may sound, as deep as the grief of those lost times often is for me to face, it’s what motivates me to do what I can to touch people’s hearts for the sake of this wondrous earth and future generations. And now, my boots and I are ready for the challenges ahead.


Well Met

Carol A. Hand

Oh little child how will you survive?
You were born with a light in your heart that shone from your eyes.
Ancestors will walk with you to keep you alive.

me 1

With a gift to see beauty in others,
Feel their fears and their pain, you’ll carry a burden words cannot name –
An inheritance from your Ojibwe great grandmothers.

me 4

Born in age with rules already in place
To exploit and control, to oppress and enslave, to extinguish hope
That we could all live lives of grace.

me 2

You lived many places but could never fit in.
Your attempts to escape from the burden and grief were all wasted time
The ancestors spoke – it’s past time to begin.

me 3

They walked beside you and guided the way
As you fumbled and struggled to live with courage and kindness and honor your path.
But it’s changed now with age, it’s a new day.

me 5

You’ve earned time to retreat
To the world of your thoughts, to be guided by dreams sent from the wise ones. Have patience and trust
When people can hear you, you’ll meet.

Note: The greeting well met “is an expression of welcome, and means no more than the modern good to see you. Shakespeare used it for example in As you like it…”

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No One’s To Blame

Carol A. Hand

I wonder, were your eyes always devoid of light and grace?
I don’t remember seeing past your handsome chiseled face,
Or the golden curls that fell almost to your waist.
Years passed, sometimes so slowly without warmth or desire to embrace.

I used to feel important but now I am alone.
Who can comfort me when my heart feels like a stone?
You seem so lost and trusting – for now I think you’ll do.
I know it won’t be long until I grow tired of you.

Your face is now masked in the pictures that you share
I wonder what feelings and thoughts you hide and will not bare?
I remember clearly your cold stare, eyes without any light
After I helped save you from dying one September night.

I awoke to find a nightmare, I’m a burden you resent
Incapable of anything because of the money I have spent.
I fill my days being busy to escape the growing fear
My life feels so pointless, and I feel my death is near.

Freedom has a price – but I’m willing to pay
For the silence and peace that greets me each day.
You made me feel damaged, ugly and gray,
Yet I really can’t blame you because I decided to stay.

I resent you for your certainty, I’ve followed you so far
Hoping that I could prove to you I really am a star.
But with every passing year I feel a growing dread
Time for me is running out, soon I might be dead.

You maligned me to those who hurt others with glee
The bullies’ compatriot – how could it be
That the one I supported for decades and more
Became a would-be destroyer of the hope that I bore?

There are days I hate the way you care for others more than me
I’m suffering and I’m lonely here but you don’t seem to see.
I know that I embarrass you, it makes me feel such shame.
But I know that I can make it hard for you so you’ll suffer just the same.

I continued to work spinning straw into gold
Despite my deep longing for someone to hold
My work kept me focused on healing the pain
Easing the suffering of others again and again.

I deserve to be treated well, to be seen as an important man
But because you pay all the bills, you treat me badly just because you can
So I’ll make sure to buy whatever I want so you can pay the cost.
I promise you’ll pay dearly for the dignity I’ve lost.

Yet age has a way of leveling the past
Superficial beauty doesn’t usually last.
You mocked my learning and stifled my voice
But I’m free from your envy and what I say is my choice.

I’m grateful to be finally free to travel as I will.
I know the cash I got is pittance, but at least you paid the bill.
I’ll fill my life with other things, masking all my pain.
I’m grateful to be done with you and not see you again.

When I read other’s love stories, I’m not sorry you’re gone
My heart is free to dream and sing its own song.
I hope you fare well as I let go of the past
My future is now in my own hands at last.


Photo Credit: Michael Josephson 2012


Yet I know we both did our best, imperfect though we are.
I really do wish you well but I’m glad it’s from afar.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections on the Importance of Knowing One’s Purpose: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

“I really HATE that report you’re working on!”

Imagine hearing this this every morning as you walk through the door to do your job. Delivered in a strident nasal tone, this was my supervisor’s greeting and her commentary on my efforts to develop the first-ever report on the demographics and services for elders in the state. Each morning, my response was the same. “I welcome any specific suggestions you have to improve it.” None were ever offered by my supervisor, but fortunately, the director and staff all provided assistance, ideas and support as part of a team effort to write, organize, and illustrate the final product.

AW cover

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Cover Page

The report, Aging Wisconsin: The Past Three Years: 1984-1986, was so popular that the first 6,000 copies went quickly. Even during tight budget times, the report went through a second printing and generated hand-written letters from elders thanking us for creating something to make their lives better. My supervisor never liked it, but I now realize she really wasn’t the audience, nor were legislators, administrators, or academics. The report was written to help elders learn about the range of services and supports available to improve their lives. Focusing on task completion is important, yet I also learned an equally important lesson about the value of process from my supervisor, although not the one she probably intended. Any project can be approached from a coercive power-over stance, or from a liberatory joyful stance. The staff and director, often easily divided by petty issues, joined together to produce something that was fun and gave them a sense of purpose and pride in their work.

AW nursing home

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Long Term Support

AW transportation

Photo Credit Aging Wisconsin – Transportation

AW caregivers

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Caregiver Support

AW home delivered meals

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Home Delivered Meals

AW housing

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Housing Options

As I look back on this experience, I realize how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to work on this report shortly after graduating from college. I am grateful to the director who believed that I could do it, and the staff who offered their support, assistance, ideas, and encouragement. I am grateful to the elders who penned hand-written thank you notes. And interestingly, I am grateful to the supervisor who kept spurring me on to do the best I could with what seemed like an overwhelming, impossible task at the time. Today, looking at the photos we gathered for the report so many years ago, I am grateful that I didn’t give up trying.

AW fiends 1

AW friends 2

AW volunteer

AW adult daycare

Photo Credit: Aging Wisconsin – Community Support

I left that job decades ago, but this memory resurfaced this morning as I reflected on today’s blogging 101 assignment, reviewing the About statement for Voices from the Margins.  The memory and the assignment both remind me that it’s important to be mindful of purpose. Not everyone will like what you do, and that’s as it should be. Knowing that I was hired to serve elders in the state, not the whims of my supervisor, helped me find creative ways to build a team to be successful any way. Clarifying the purpose of the blog helps keep me focused. I have attempted to explain our blog’s purpose. It’s a space that celebrates diversity and welcomes creative efforts to resist status quo critiques. a place to give voice to different “truths.” Like all bloggers, I hope people will read what I write and engage in dialogue, but I also try to speak about what I see as important during these challenging times.

(A final note: I just couldn’t decide which photos to share so I went a bit overboard I fear 🙂 )

Work Cited:

Carol Hand (1988)(Ed.) Aging Wisconsin: The past three years – 1984-1986 progress report on the Wisconsin State Plan on Aging. Madison, WI: Bureau on Aging,  Department of Health and Social Services.

The Price of Rebellion – Runo Lite: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

Although I’m not sorry I refused to learn how to type as a form of rebellion against gender stereotypes, it did cause me a lot of extra work in my early days. You know, the days before personal computers when papers were written by hand on lined paper and then typed on a manual typewriter. I remember the only way I could reorganize the flow of what I wrote was by cutting out each handwritten sentence and continuously rearranging them on my carpeted floor and then taping them together in long streams. I didn’t want to type first. It took too long and too much whiteout. I was grateful for the invention of erasable onionskin paper, but still, my work always looked like I corrected so many typos and over-ran the margins on the right side and the bottom of the page. I did, and then thinned the text and the edges of my paper with strenuous efforts to remove all the evidence. I am grateful for computers, but still fondly remember the feel of writing things in my curious blend of cursive and printing.


Photo Credit: Etsy Market

In response to today’s blogging 101 assignment to preview a variety of themes, I looked at elegant, frilly and flowered. I looked at serious and professional. As someone over 60, I have no need to appear elegant or frilly. I prefer simple, lightweight, and clean. So it made sense for me to stick with my original choice – Runo Lite, a theme that matched my inclinations and quirks. It’s not perfect. I don’t like the near invisibility of embedded links. I wonder if that’s why so few people click out to the sites I spend time to find and embed? I wonder if I can make them more visible by changing the color of the font for embedded text links? (I can’t wait to see if this works!) The other challenge has more to do with my confusion when dealing with technological aspects. Widgets! How many hours I have spent trying to add widgets and get them to show up in the “right” place! Perhaps it’s a function of my theme. Many of the other themes I tested for this exercise automatically moved the content of some of the widgets to the margins where I have tried for hours to place them.

Nonetheless, I decided to stay with Runo Lite despite these challenges. But then, I learned to live with margins that never looked the way I would have liked. It’s the content that matters, right? (I was never graded on my margins in school…)

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Great-Grandmother’s Gift

Carol A. Hand

When my grandson, Aadi, was 7 years old, we went with his mother to visit his great-grandmother, Norma. Norma, my mother, was living in a home with other elders who needed attendants and nurses to provide care because she could no longer take care of herself. She had developed Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that caused her to lose her memories, her ability to communicate with others, and her ability to meet her own basic needs.

Speech was difficult for her, and when she did speak, her words rarely made sense – they often seemed to be bits and pieces from other distant times. Aadi’s mom, Jnana, was so kind and gentle with her grandmother, and so patient. Aadi was also gentle with his great-grandmother. He sat at her feet, carefully holding her fragile, wrinkled hand. I knelt down next to Aadi, and said to my mother, “This is your great grandson, Aadi.” My mother looked at me and said, “Aadi.” I smiled and then looked at Aadi and asked, “Did you hear her? She said your name!” Aadi shook his head, “no.” Then, my mother looked at Aadi, and then at me, and said, “He’s a good boy.” I asked Aadi if he heard this. This time, Aadi shook his head, “yes.”

Perhaps Aadi does not realize how magical this gift really was. Somehow in the later stages of a disease that robbed his great-grandmother of her language and the ability to communicate, she was able to show how special he was to her. She was able to say his name and tell him that he was a good boy.

Aadi’s great-grandmother made important contributions in her long life. She traveled many places and met people from many different walks of life. She was always a good judge of character. And somehow, because of her ability to see beneath the surface appearance of things, and because of the strength of her love, she was able to find words to tell her great grandson, Aadi, how special he is.

Norma and Aadi

Photo Credit: Norma, Aadi (3 months old), and Carol

And, Aadi is, indeed, good, although he is now a good, handsome, young man.


Aadi 7

Photo Credit: Aadi (7)



aadi ava ahma 2010

Photo Credit: Aadi, Ava, and Ahma (2010)



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