“The great American dream that reached out to the stars has been lost to the stripes. We have forgotten where we came from, we don’t know where we are, and we fear where we may be going. Afraid, we turn from the glorious adventure of the pursuit of happiness to a pursuit of an illusionary security in an ordered, stratified, striped society. Our way of life is symbolized to the world by the stripes of military force. At home we have made a mockery of being our brother’s keeper by being his jail keeper. When Americans can no longer see the stars, the times are tragic. We must believe that it is the darkness before the dawn of a beautiful new world; we will see it when we believe it.”
No one could ask for better grandparents than mine: “Gal & Big Daddy” and “Granny & Grandaddy”. As long as they lived, they were the ties of love that bound two families together. And once they were gone, both families fractured and segmented – never again to gather ’round the same Christmas tree, or share another family reunion feast.
The greatest gifts my grandparents gave me were not material, but the material gifts they gave me were precious. One of those was “Gal’s Pillows”, which you can see hanging on my clothesline in the accompanying photo. She made those pillows from scraps and sewed every stitch by hand. She gave them to me when I was in my twenties, which means they’re at least 30 years old now. The stuffing’s lumpy and the covering’s worn thin, but they’re still with me: I sleep with one stuffed in each of my pillow cases every night, and hang them on the clothesline to let my slumber’s drool dry out every day.
I’m a grandparent myself now, and my hope is that someday, somehow I’ll manage to give my own grandchildren a gift as lasting as my grandparents’ love – and Gal’s Pillows.