The Quote of the Day that inspired my A to Z Challenge theme –
A Word for the Day that takes on many meanings.
Quote of the Day: A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. John Steinbeck
Word of the Day: Know, Knowing, to Know
This post is more on the different forms of the word, and a guest post by my sister Nancy. She wrote about her name for last year’s challenge that was very funny. She’s not, yet, blogging. Maybe next year.
In my family, we had a great role model for what it means to seek knowledge. Our
grandfather, Arthur Siberg was the kind of man who was always learning, and every
bit of new knowledge would be a remarkable thing that he needed to share with… well,
pretty much everyone he would meet.
The one thing I remember the most about my grandfather is how he was always reading.
But it wasn’t the quiet sort of reading I do. No, when he would read, it was a very active
and engaging process that he undertook. I have a vivid memory of him pacing back
and forth in his stocking feet, reading a book with a black cover. Years later, I came to
find out that what he was reading was a book by the great Danish philosopher, Søren
Kierkegaard. All alone, this knowledge wouldn’t be jaw-dropping, but my grandfather
was a Swedish immigrant to America, and he only had a sixth-grade education. My
uncle told me Kirkegaard was so difficult for Grandpa to read in English, that he tracked
down a copy in the original Danish, (because that language was closer to Swedish), and
then would work his way, line-by-line, translating the Danish into Swedish and then into
English so he could share his newfound knowledge with other people.
When he was young, my grandfather’s father died, so Grandpa had to go into the forests
and work as a lumberjack to earn a living for himself and his mother. In his memoirs,
he said this about the experience: “Being alone in the big forest, far from any person,
is an experience by itself. It is so quiet and so dark in the deep woods. It would be no
place for someone who is scared in the dark.” For him, discovering knowledge…really
knowing something, was like coming out of the cold, dark woods and stepping into the
light. He was a remarkable man; I wish I could have known him now, when I’m finally
wise enough to truly appreciate him.
–For Arthur Sexton Siberg
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
– Søren Kierkegaard
I didn’t know why you read
Søren Kierkegaard in your stocking feet,
pacing back and forth across the living room floor,
Fear and Trembling in one hand, the other directing
the symphony of line and syntax that only you could hear.
I didn’t know why you would pause in the doorway,
peering over your glasses at the words on the page,
one foot crossed over the other as if you were
in your blue Lazy-boy recliner that always
sat empty when you were reading the heavy books.
I wasn’t sure why you would ask my grandmother
or why you would read a book that was so hard to understand.
a sixth-grade education or why you said you cried
when your friends went off to seventh-grade
without you. I couldn’t really know the kind of poverty
that could force a mother to send a child off to work
in the forests of Sweden when he was only twelve.
When I was twelve, I couldn’t imagine why the trees
could still haunt you, how the forest could have
been that cold, how being away from your mother
would have felt. I couldn’t imagine you, my little
Grandpa, at thirteen, and fourteen, and fifteen,
dancing with death on the pine logs as they
floated down the Dalälven.
I like to remember you in your stocking feet,
way, line by line, through a theology that was years
beyond you. I like to remember the way you would
get it, really get it, pushing up your glasses,
grabbing my grandma, and spinning across the floor.
Thanks, Nancy, you offer more insight into our Grandpa Siberg. I’ve had the thought that if I could go back in time, I’d like to meet my parents and grandparents as kids and young adults.
Journaling Prompt: Do you know any stories about your grandparents, or parents? Does it help explain how they, or you, respond to the world?
Go. Create. Inspire!
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I love the quote and your granddad story . I wish I’d had a good memories of mine. One died before I was born but my mum would tell me all about him. He sounded a special person . I only met my other granddad rarely so didn’t know him really!
What a lovely post and such nice memories.
A wonderful post and memories to re-live.
wow…really an inspiring personality your grandpa had got.
Mary, Lovely reflections that resonate with me. You’ll see that I used KNOWLEDGE also, with a slightly different spin.
And your grandfather’s comments about the woods are so consistent with my ecotherapy work (see: HealingNatureCT.com). Thank you for sharing.
You are blowing kisses, pal! Can’t you see it???
What lovely, lovely, sparkly, shimmery, remembrance of your grandpa. My dad was full of stories about his life. Grandpa too. My mom was less. She had to work hard (in the fields)as a youngster with the brothers, while her sis got to stay at home and cook and sew.
That quote is awesome. Here’s one from my dad:
The first hundred years are the hardest. – Virgil O’Ross
It does help explain how we are. It shapes us. Nice post. 🙂
what a great post and actually just a few months ago I accumulated crates of old slides, letters, etc…and it has been so much fun learning about their lives…
My dad served four tours in Vietnam and he’s always told me, your first three nights out in the wilderness alone, you know real fear. After that, you change forever.
Suze, those words gave me the chills.
Wow. I love that poem and the powerful memories your sister shared. Grandpas are such special people. 🙂
That was really great Nancy. I didn’t know all of that about grandpa.
What a wonderful memory of your grandfather. How cool that he read pacing in stocking feet. He sounds like an amazing person.
That’s really a great story. For him to go line by line like that is incredible.
Poignant! Your grandpa sounds like he was an amazing character… such great memories…
Nancy’s poem is SUPERB! I got a creative writing degree partly in poetry, and LOVE the genre. I can recognize a great poem, and this one is great.
I came over from the comment you made on my Golden Movies “I” post that focused on Susan Hayward. I’m very happy to meet you!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs
I see I’ve already met you as my face is on your Google Friend Connect. So I’m very happy to RE-connect!
How wonderful to have those fond memories of your grandpa. I didn’t know either of mine. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could meet our parents and grandparents when they were little; I wonder if we’d see ourselves in them.
Rhia at Five Minute Piece for Inspiration (around # 793 on A to Z Challenge)
Hi Mary. This is wonderful for K. I think knowing more about our parents and grandparents really helps us to understand ourselves at times.
Lovely post. I long to be able to go somewhere where you can’t hear anything but stillness and quiet – I think I might be a bit scared of the dark, though!
If you are interested in bloghopping to me, I’m leaving you my A-Z link as blogger
always identifies me as my shared blog with other poets – my A-Z is this one: http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com
Thanks for all the comments!
Nicely done. We are never too old to stop learning. I know quite a few stories about my parents and grandparents. Love those stories.
Places I Remember
Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog
This post is soooo lovely. I understand wanting to know him now, when you’re capable of appreciating him.
From what I’ve read here, I’d say you know him quite well. There’s a great deal of the man who would translate words to understand them, in the woman who translates understanding into words.
I’ve a photo of one of my great-greats logging a swamp in southern Missouri. The woods have always called to me. Each time I see that shot, I know why. It’s in my blood.
Nicely done, Mary.
What a heart-warming post. Like you, I too wish I had known my grandfathers better. But both died when I was just a child. Had I been older I’d have asked them how they had the courage to begin anew after being uprooted and displaced during the partition of India.
I am mightily impressed, both with Nancy’s post and the poem. Beautiful accounts, all, and the photo of you, well, it’s just precious. I’m just now ending my day, but what a wonderful way in which to do it. Thank you! 🙂
This is such a great post. I really liked the quote and the story of your grandparents. You have great writing, and I liked reading this post.
Amazing post & poem. Just amazing!
Texas Playwright Chick
That was just beautiful and it sounds like you and Nancy both loved your grandfather as I loved mine. You can see my grandfather’s pictures under my P is for Photo. It is so nice to have met you and I know we will be blogger friends. I thought I had signed up to follow you, but don’t see my face, so I will do it right now.