An anecdote: I don’t remember volunteering to play at their funerals. Instead, I recall the underlying weariness and humble desperation of a neighborhood familiar with midnight knife fights, alcohol addictions, drug battles and other elements that threaten the residents of Glasgow’s government housing estates. Ruchazie was a neighborhood of unsettled future. We hoped for recovery - though hope came and went like the hourly rain showers. At that time (2007-08), the Scottish city had more recognized gangs than London, but roughly 1/9 the population. I and two other volunteers had only moved in several months before our first death.
“The family would like to have some real music at the service, just a few songs on the piano, if you could?”
And so I stumbled over the black and white keys for an elderly gentleman; a middle-aged father; pounding my anger and helplessness into the chords.
The hardest funeral was for a young man in his 20s, dead from association with drugs: overdose, murder, accident? Cause unknown, or at least unspoken. I sat down at the piano, already judging the bad decisions and mistakes that had brought him, prematurely, to the hardwood coffin.
But then Fr. Sullivan said something special. “It is easy for us to think J**** made stupid choices. But he was smart kid. He saw what the church was trying to do for the community, and he would stop me on the street just to say thanks. It is rare these days for folks to recognize the gestures of others, and it takes bravery to share their gratitude. A wise person is one who says ‘Thank you’.”
A seque: Today, my most enthusiastic gratitude goes out to Meg, the informative and cheerful expat at Something Swedish, for nominating me for the Illuminating Blog Award by foodstoriesblog.com. *Reading Meg’s posts, I not only learn about any and every aspect of life in Sweden, but I feel as if Meg is telling me, personally, over a morning coffee.*
In turn, I would like to nominate the following up-and-coming writers for their illuminating and illustrating blogs:
1) Same Skies Above: Writing in that witty and straight-forward North American style, this traveler shares both useful facts and entertaining stories about her global experiences.
2) No More FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): “The Americas, as seen by a pair of traveling Kiwis” offers the humorous and oft-illuminating view that only two non-natives can provide. Since my boyfriend is also a Kiwi, I have a special adoration for the sarcasm and slang that slips into their posts.
3) Jessica Mudditt’s Blog: Jessica’s articles have appeared in major newspapers in Burma, Scotland, and Bangladesh; her eye for detail and journalistic voice draw attention to issues the average traveler doesn’t often read.
4) The Wandering American: This Yank seems to avoid public transport, moving instead on foot, by bike, by thumb; so, his posts – and striking photos – capture both the colors and characters of a world you can’t see from a speeding bus.
5) Travel With Intent: I just started following this blog, so we’re not as well-acquainted as the other nominations; however, I already love how she mixes images, reading recommendations,and various weekly challenges, to inform.
A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s commented, liked, followed, or simply stopped by TooMutchForWords over the past year!