Last week, the H and I were both miserable with runny noses and itchy throats and all the ickiness that comes with a cold. I felt like a half-drowned kitten for the most part, and he wasn’t much better. Though the memory of a body without pains and aches seemed far far away at the time, as all colds go, so did this one. A morning finally came when we woke up as ourselves. I tend to go overboard in my complaints when I fall sick, which I do rarely (the falling sick part. Obviously).
Later that day, I got to thinking about my dad. My dad has had diabetes for decades now. In fact, he’s had it for all my life. So I grew up watching him not partake of the desserts that lined our tables on special occasions. I also watched him take small portions sometimes. I grew up watching my mum use the smallest amount of oil possible while cooking, watched her make a sugar-less version of everything that was possible to tweak in this manner for him and make full, rich versions for the rest of us, and I grew up eating salads and greens much, much more than the average kid.
All this has helped me enormously with my own food choices and with what the H and I put on our plates every day in our home. What I do not know if I have also imbibed with these habits, is my father’s stoicism. I grew up a happy kid, aware of his diabetes but never knowing or seeing the fear it generates even today amongst others. He didn’t let it adversely affect life more than it had to, and totally shielded us from it. This is a common thread that runs through most of them from his generation, their quiet strength. I have seen it mirrored in the attitudes of beloved aunts and uncles who share this with him too.
I have heard many times, and seen some times, that when you are beset by something unfortunate, whether or not it is of your own doing, most of the time, you will gain a grace that previously you did not possess. I have also seen people crash spectacularly when things didn’t go too well for them. But mostly what I have seen is grace. It is a quiet grace, upon which the weight of weighty matters seems to rest easily.
I read a magazine snippet this morning that left me shaken. The recently elected President Mugabe of Zimbabwe is alleged to have remarked that people who cannot stomach his win, supporters of his opponent, “can commit suicide”. This is a man who will rule over the entire nation, and not simply the people who voted for him. This is a head of a state. Political ideology has become a deeply personal issue. Everything is taken as an offence, an insult, an affront. Everything is personal.
Almost everywhere I look, I hardly see traces of it. Where is grace?