Monday, January 09, 2006

My Grandma Pat

This was something I had written for a yoga magazine contest - they asked for a piece of writing about a person you have met that emodies what it is to be a yogi. I wrote the piece, and, true to my fashion, did not procure a FREAKIN' STAMP in time to send it... (I never seem to have a stamp when I need one, does this happen to anyone else? I'd like to see a new system, one where each address has a code of some sort, and all outgoing mail can be billed to an account associated with that code... but that's a theory for another day.)
I thought I'd post this here, just because this is where things of a typed nature should be. So, without further ado, enjoy:

They say, “Children and animals know things.”
Even as a young child, I knew that my Grandma Pat was a bright light, a precious gift. I feel blessed to have had her in my life. I was too young while she was alive to know that she was the first yogi I’d met. It’s only now that I’ve begun my own study of yoga, that I realize she was far ahead of me on the path already.
She was gentle, loving and patient. Her presence did not COMMAND attention, her ways were far less intrusive. Instead, you felt compelled to take notice, to take in every word, to be touched by her energy. Whatever was brought to you by her presence or her voice was a small gift to be cherished forever.
Pat exuded strength. She was widowed early, left alone to raise four boisterous boys, and their princess-come-tomboy sister. (my mother) She was loving, patient and handled conflict with endless equanimity, her mantra being, “This too shall pass.” She passed her wisdom and ways on to my mother, and I find myself striving to live up to them as well.
She was a teacher throughout her life, and in her last teaching position she worked closely with new immigrants, not only teaching them English, but helping them acclimatize to their new country, often on her own time.
My Grandma Pat was a great lover of life, nature and the universe. She adored violets, sculpting the clay she dug from her garden, and watching the lake beside her house. She had a profound respect for everything from the smallest insect to the vastness of the night sky. Some of my best memories include evenings spent curled up with her on the couch watching Carl Sagan on Cosmos.
She even had a bit of a physical practice, yet I doubt she would have called it yoga. From a very young age, her parents had her go outside every day to do breathing exercises, regardless of weather. And her physical exercise was comprised mainly of a series of stretching movements, which, looking back at it now, were very rooted in yoga.

There are many times I find myself thinking of her in the quiet that comes to me at the end of my practice. It is in these moments when I feel close to her again, where I feel a connection with her thanks to the balanced calm. Although I only had her in my life for ten years, she has been a part of me always. And although I have always recognized how special she was to me, it has not been until I began my yoga practice that I have rediscovered a connection with her and learned the one word which acknowledges her for what she was. I think of her each time I say it: Namaste.

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