Added: Rodrigues Buchanan - Date: 05.01.2022 02:15 - Views: 23895 - Clicks: 8821
In one of my favorite family pictures, I am standing in a semicircle of women — my mother, my aunts and my cousins — all of us barefoot on the grass, dressed in white terry cloth robes. We are about to take a memorial skinny-dip. My grandmother spent her summers at a family lake house in northern Wisconsin.
I privately disagreed, thinking of some of the behaviors that were repressed. Coed skinny-dipping was never done, for example, even with your own spouse. Sex was a mysterious activity, rarely alluded to, which shaded it with shame in my mind, though I now think the collective silence had more to do with respecting privacy.
My grandmother majored in phys ed in college, and while she spent most of her life as a homemaker, mother of five and community volunteer, she was always moving. She hung her laundry on a clothesline, letting it flap dry in the fresh air. She took pleasure in her body by using it, constantly and fearlessly.
She brought that same fearlessness to the rest of her life, whether she was playing a practical joke on one of her four siblings, housing Vietnamese refugees, starting an integrated preschool program in s inner-city Washington, D. Martin Luther King Jr. A religious Christian, she believed in expressing her faith through service. I can see now that these two things — her physical fearlessness and her faith — were deeply connected. She pressed her body into service — for herself, her family, her community and her country.
Anyone could see that, watching her jump naked into that cold water. Long skinny legs, a round paunch, saggy old-lady breasts. But she never apologized for it, not even in her stance.
She stood tall on that dock, in that water. This body has seen me through this far, she seemed to be saying. And it was, until she began to be plagued by a recurring dizziness. She had a hemangioblastoma: a benign tumor the size of an orange lodged at the base of her skull. Surgery removed some of it, leaving the rest enmeshed in her brain tissue and a thick zipper of stitches up the back of her head.
She never recovered her former mobility, never skinny-dipped again. That loss was painful for all of us, but especially for her, a woman who had taken such joy in her body. It became her final challenge: to learn to live without her gifts, and finally, to leave her physical form behind altogether. We mourned her loss when she died. But her example left a powerful impression. For me, her lessons were embodied in those morning skinny-dips — those rituals of exuberance and praise, daily exercises in daring.
They taught me to embrace the many thrilling sensations life has to offer, to be bold, to welcome each day with openness and joy, and to strive for a sense of pride and comfort in my own skin. When I waver in any of these areas — which I do Family skinny dip — I remember my grandmother plunging into that cold morning water.
My daughter never met her.
And my family still vacations at that lake house most summers. My own mother now dons the white terry cloth robe in the mornings and treks down the path to the lake. Sometimes my daughter goes with her. The chill of the lake on her skin, the feeling of dirt beneath her feet, the voices echoing over the water — these things are teaching her all she needs to know.
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