heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: “I may be small, but I’m strong.”

blueborderThis year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

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My mother used to say:

“I may be small, but I’m strong.”

My mother was 4’11” tall.  She was “petite” but fierce.  Her hands, though small, were strong.  As wayward children, we knew her vice grip well.  She could beat a 6′ tall burly man in an arm wrestling match.  But her eyes, oh those eyes.  When she was angry, her eyes were like steel and ice.  And if that gaze was directed at one of us, we knew we were in deep trouble.  She didn’t have to utter a word. Just one look.

Throughout her life, she suffered a series of debilitating illnesses – from brain clots, osteoporosis, and heart problems to multiple cancers.  She was always in pain, but rarely showed it.  She whistled through it. She laughed at it. She refused to succumb to it. She despised weakness and was damned if she was going to let anyone see her vulnerable.

When she experienced a life challenge – physical, emotional, family related or economic – she bore it defiantly… almost like daring it to bring her down.  Except that it never did.

Even at the very end of her life, with cancer festering rapidly throughout her small body, she looked at me – smiling and loving eyes penetrating my soul – and she said “My darling girl, don’t cry for me. I’ll be fine.”  She was 79. I was 45. I was not fine.  I was losing the most precious person in my life.

In the years since, I’ve experienced some interesting life challenges. Friends and family have expressed their amazement at how stoically I’ve handled myself, how strong and resilient I am.

I’ve had a good teacher.

    “The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.”

― C. JoyBell C.

 

Bamboo in Full Bloom

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“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

~ Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973)

The sound of rustling bamboo leaves can be heard throughout my house when the windows are open.  By day, I love to do my writing while  sitting in my side garden, surrounded by a grove of these beautiful, mystical trees.  And, at night, I can see shadows of the wondrously resilient  bamboo stalks as they dance with the wind, while weaving in and out of the moonlight. They fill me with a sense of quiet joy and complete serenity.

Back in October, I wrote a couple of posts about the bamboo stalk that was sprouting in my garden and how it was shooting up towards the sky ― higher and higher, as the days passed.  Within the space of just a few weeks, it  was well over twenty feet above my roof line.  Now, it looks like a majestic feather, swaying in the wind.  Below, you can see  my photos of  this amazing tree, as it has evolved.

In my October 7th (2012) post , The Spirit of Bamboo, I mentioned that this fast-growing stalk has inspired my husband and I to “keep raising our eyes in the same direction of our wonderful bamboo …. upwards, always upwards.”

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On October 28th (2012), I wrote Bamboo Rising, where I listed The 7 Life Lessons from Bamboo (by Sompong Yusoontorn).

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And here it is today (see photo, below). A symbolism of simplicity and humility, flexibility and strength. In the Asian culture, it is believed that the younger branches on the top of the bamboo stalk will never overshadow the older, larger branches below. This is so the sunlight will reach the elder branches. Conversely, the baby shoots are protected from the shade of the older branches, so that they may have a chance to grow. The dual symbolism is that the bamboo represents the young respecting the old and the old protecting the young.

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Awesome, isn’t it?

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from William Edgar Geil‘s “Ode to Bamboo” (written over a century ago). An American Baptist missionary and adventurer who was fascinated by China, Dr. Geil made history as the first person to traverse the Great Wall of China in an 82-day excursion. In his Ode, he describes his observations on the usefulness and wonders of Bamboo:

“A man can sit in a bamboo house under a bamboo roof, on a bamboo chair at a bamboo table, with a bamboo hat on his head and bamboo sandals on his feet. He can at the same time hold in one hand a bamboo bowl, in the other hand bamboo chopsticks and eat bamboo sprouts. When through with his meal, which has been cooked over a bamboo fire, the table may be washed with a bamboo cloth, and he can fan himself with a bamboo fan, take a siesta on a bamboo bed, lying on a bamboo mat with his head resting on a bamboo pillow. His child might be lying in a bamboo cradle, playing with a bamboo toy. On rising he would smoke a bamboo pipe and taking a bamboo pen, write on bamboo paper, or carry his articles in bamboo baskets suspended from a bamboo pole, with a bamboo umbrella over his head. He might then take a walk over a bamboo suspension bridge, drink water from a bamboo ladle, and scrape himself with a bamboo scraper.”