Today’s card reminds me that I learn a lot of stuff on a daily basis. Sometimes I worry that I forget it just about as fast. And it is a piece of the Queen of Swords or the Arrow Queen as depicted in the Incidental Tarot. I’ll tell you a story about an amazing, if annoying, woman who was a major factor in my life.
My grandmother, Lucile aka Grannilu, scared the bejesus out of me. She was a high school English teacher who graded (and returned) letters from her grandchildren. If you did well, you got money (five buck for an A). If you did not do well, you were guaranteed red pen and comments.
And don’t think you could get away with not writing to her. That indiscretion garnered a letter to your parent that detailed her displeasure.
Now don’t get me wrong. Grannilu was no despot. She loved us all very very much. She was, I suppose, a Texas version of a Tiger mom. Her love was fierce and unyielding but so were her expectations.
When I think of her, I am reminded of the battle between Snow White and her stepmother. Did you know that it wasn’t her heart the Queen wanted in the original story? It was her lung. They couldn’t share the same air. Classic battle between mother and daughter–one for the room to grow, the other for the refusal to grow old. You can see my spread on this battle in my Fairy Tale Spreads e-Book.
I remember her testing me once. I didn’t know what it was for but I remember her handing me a Reader’s Digest. I was told to read a certain page. The instructions were to read and start over should I finish before she called time. I did as she asked but remember wondering why my mother looked a bit funny.
When Grannilu finally called time, she asked me how I had done. I told her how many times I’d read it (eight and a half if I remember correctly). She told me that was impossible. I vehemently told her I had. When she told me I had to be lying, I recited nearly word for word the information I’d just read.
My grandmother, never one to apologize, looked at my mother and said, “Well apparently she doesn’t need the Evelyn Wood course.” Then she looked at me knowingly.
“We will expect more from you.”
The Queen of Swords never had a better example than Lucile. She did expect more of me. Another conversation revolved around the correct usage of forte`. Did you know it is pronounced “for tay” only when you are using it in reference to music? According to Grannilu, “fort” is how you pronounce “forte`” when speaking of anything else.
Yes, I looked it up. I was about sixteen at the time. She was, of course, right.
She taught herself Esperanto just to keep her mind active.
When she became lost to us to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, I cried harder than when she actually died. It was hard for me to acknowledge that the fearsome woman was gone. In her place was a lost little woman.
Now that I am hitting that age where my grandmother first became real in my life (my mother was a late-in-life surprise), I begin to understand why Grannilu was so adamant about her word games and languages. It kept her mind active.
Every time I forget a word, I wonder if I am going to wander down that road like she did. That, more than just about anything else in this world, terrifies me.
So, because it scares me, I have begun to do the NY Times crossword puzzles–like my Grannilu. I have a language series from Rosetta so I can learn a new language–like my Grannilu. I do WordsWithFriends obsessively–I’m sure Grannilu would have loved having that app if there had been smartphones when she was alive.
Lucile, born in 1905, wouldn’t have been a technophobe. I know she would have dived into technology like any self-respecting Queen of Swords.
So your challenge is to think of a challenging family member. Someone who causes your back to go up when they speak your name.
Now think of three positive things about them–either ways you have grown stronger or ways they have caused you to improve.
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Seek joy, y’all. Pass it on.
The Arrow Queen, Incidental Tarot, Holly DeFount, 2012
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