Walking down the hill this afternoon from my part-time job, I reflected on words read earlier in the day in "The Invention Of Wings" about “Huguenot frugality.” I recognized that as part of my latter life lesson-plan.
I've had two upbringings: the first with my parents, where I learned kindness, compassion, patience, an appreciation for literature and music (in particular among the arts), a sort of free-thinking yet Roman Catholic Christian sensibility (a true American hybrid), a psychic connection with one branch of my ancestors, and an abiding awareness of Death. At this season of Halloween, it seems timely to recollect just how much the Dead and the soon-to-be dead, dominated our family’s consciousness. Holocaust-survivors, you might reasonably ask? No, the Jewish part of my background trace their persecution to the Spanish Inquisition. Some went to Sweden during Hitler's rampage, but some stayed right at home in Denmark, working. My uncle, as an electrician, was useful to them. No, our family's particular fixation with Death was much more quotidian: mere poverty and illness, rampant in their post-war world: post-Civil War and post WWI. I think our lot improved, if only slightly, after WW II.
My second upbringing has been with my husband and partner Gary, who derives one strand of his lineage from the French Huguenots. Strict, upright, frugal, clean, forceful and intolerant -these are the words I would use to describe him. Over the years, while he has been improving my rather lackadaisical work-ethic, I've been softening the glare of his moral searchlight. Thanks to our long-time partnership, he is far kinder and I am more hard-working, among other mutual influences, so I guess it's been a good trade. Life with Gary has also meant a life close to nature, although the urbis closes in more and more every year.
After walking down the hill to my house and entering, I notice again that the light seems brighter in our house for some mysterious reason I think it has to do with our weekly puja held every Tuesday evening, which I stubbornly maintain has physical effects, although subtle ones. There is such a good feeling in our house. When Amma visited, she said it is a good house and feels like a Hindu home. High praise.