Reading & Writing a Life

Carla Pineda's blog

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Graduation Time, Family, and Books

It’s graduation time.  In mine and my husband’s large and extended families we have…if I have counted correctly and not left anyone out 7 graduates this go round.  Pretty impressive I think.  I almost get giddy thinking about it.  Graduations are a good thing!  We have 4 high school graduates, 1 getting an associate’s degree and 2 college graduates.  Most are going to the next step…college classes, continuing college classes, graduate school, one to Russia for a year on a Fulbright Scholarship.

My nephew is one of the high school graduates.  We went  to a luncheon honoring the graduates of his class yesterday at noon and to the ceremony last night…it’s nice when they live in town.  His sister graduated from college last week…out of state…we missed that one.( I had to take note of her as we were sitting in an outdoor amphitheater waiting for graduation to begin; she was sitting with a book, probably 500-600 pages on the life of Stalin.  She will go to Russia to teach English this fall.)  Back to her brother.  I told him the other day that he was not old enough to be graduating because that makes me older!  When he was 4 or 5 I gave him a book for his birthday.  And, the next year he got another one.  He ask me (or his mother, I can’t remember) why I always gave him books for his birthday.  I’m not sure what answer I gave him then but he remembered that and we have joked about it through the years.

You see, we are a family of readers and people who love language and words.  We have teachers and writers in the family.  There are even bookstore owners in our DNA.  I haven’t gotten him a book this go round…yet!!  One will be on the way to him soon and likely to his sister, maybe to a few of the other graduates or family members…just because.  Graduations don’t happen without books and reading.  It is always good to give a book!

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Granny’s Prayer Book

I am spending a quiet Saturday afternoon in my writing room.  A beautiful CD of Women’s Sacred Chants is playing.  I have been traveling through a flash drive of writings from the past.  Some of them I remember, others I wonder where they came from.  But this one, “Granny’s Prayer Book” I remember writing in deep recesses of memory.  It moved me to write it and moves me reading it again nearly 6 years later. 

It is worn.  Tattered.  Well used.  Deeply loved. 

My cousin Betsy has my Granny’s prayer book…1928 Book of Common Prayer, worn black leather.  The gold cross on the front is barely visible from years of her hands being  placed there to open and close its pages. 

It is worn.  Tattered.  Well used.  Deeply loved.

Her name is written in it.  Her addresses are listed, one under the other as she moved from place to place.  Moving was a part of her life.  She moved 36 times in her life my cousin said.  Granny said that when one moved one of the first things you did when you got to your new home was find a church home.

Her prayer book falls open to the prayers for the family.  The spine, held together by loose threads is fully exposed at this place.  It was here that she spent much of her time with God.  There are pages missing.  There are pages yellowed by the tape holding them together.

She had many reasons to pray for her family.  Prayer was her survival tool.  She lost her mother when she was a little girl.  She helped raise her younger brother.  She struggled through the alcoholism of family members, times of unemployment and the depression.  She helped raise the daughter of her nephew when she was in her 60’s.  She outlived three of her four children. 

“It should never be this way, she said, “that I survived three of my four children.”  Yet, she never lost her faith.  She always carried on.  She always thought of others.  She always gave of herself.  Her worn, tattered, well used and deeply loved Book of Common Prayer is a living reflection of this truth. 

May my Book of Common Prayer be so worn, tattered, well used and deeply loved.  And may my life be a reflection of the one she modeled for me…and for so many others.