“Navajo Grandmother” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen
In the early days in the Southwest, I saw many Navajo grandmothers, many looking much like this lady, sitting comfortably in a large chair in the back of a son-in-law’s pickup truck. I was told by this lady that it was the custom, as she didn’t have a lot to do with her son-in-law. In fact, she did not speak with her son-in-law.
Women owned and cared for the flocks of sheep, and these sheep were owned by her daughter. After shearing, the fleece was taken to market in their pickup, with grandma in the back.
“Sheep Grazing on Reservation” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen
In our euphemistically imbued age of political politeness, the middle years are referred to as the youth of old age. We are urged to “get it while you can”. “The end is near.” “From now on it’s all downhill.” To a certain extent that is all true. But we still have energy, imagination and inclination to do great things. The middle years are a whirlwind of work, creativity and preparing for the inevitable.
When you leave middle age you bump into other unexpected adventures. Children leave and get married which brings lots of other experiences, that of becoming grandparents possibly being one of the most pleasant. You have been cautioned to do your traveling early because when old age strikes you may have the time and the money, but you no longer have the inclination. You become an appreciator rather than a participator. As an inveterate collector of other people’s art, I have become an admirer rather than an acquirer.
As you leave the middle years you realize that in the early days you fight because you don’t understand each other, but as you grow older, you fight because you do. Either way, marriage has a certain amount of misunderstanding and disagreement, some of which may cause you to wonder how you ever got into it. But you persevere and realize that if you were being graded on your performance, you probably flunked. Luckily, there is a do-over; it’s called apology.
The bright side of marriage, especially that of long standing, is that you understand that you are not alike and never have been. This person who attracted you at an early age may have done so precisely because he or she was different from you. Marriage can become a home schooling effort, each learning from the other.
17 thoughts on “THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES Kate’s Journal”
I love your Native American paintings, such grace and strength. So how many years have you been “getting to know you”?
It will be 70 years in September and we’re still learning! We probably each need ‘grace and strength’ to survive so long! (grin)
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Well I look forward to the party! 🙂
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Lovely painting, Kayti…and what insight…marriage as homeschooling!
Thanks Carol Ann I’m so glad you liked it.
The grazing sheep watercolour is beautiful–you’ve really captured a scene there. As for marriage (we’re at 46 years now), I’ve realized that all our quarrels are the same. They never really change. It’s hardly worth having them. 🙂
It’s a peaceful scene isn’t it? You can forget all the problems in the world just watching the sheep.
Love your attitude re quarrels. Some years ago one daughter was having a nasty divorce and I spoke with 2 other women who had gone through that without acrimony. When I asked them why that could be they both said “You fight over money or children and we have neither problem.” It’s all in knowing what to overlook. After 70 years of marriage I think tone of voice solves a lot of problems.
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Come on over Gill—there’s plenty of room and you’d be very welcome.
You certainly gave us much to think about in this post, Kayti. The phrase “appreciator rather than a participator” captured me. I’ve sensed myself making that transition and felt I was letting both myself and others down; now I know I’m not alone, and it is comforting to know others, too, feel the way I do. Thank you for providing this insight to me and others.
Thank you if that resonated with you Janet. I think we all hate change, and to find ourselves changing just as we get comfortable with middle age is one of the big surprises in life.
Seventy years? That means H and are still apprentices. Probably still indentured and on trial. The tools to get ahead is laughter and tears. Gee, that philosopher Alain De Botton got it all worked out. There are no such things as perfect partners. Opposites attract and not sameness. We are more conspirators than anything and plot and scheme endlessly. It has worked so far.
Great post, Kayti. A joy to behold.
Contrary to Dr. A, I have never felt the necessity to broadcast the great number of years we have been sharing marital “bliss”. He proudly announces the ages and number of years to any new captive listener. I think he enjoys the expressions of incredulity he gets while I slink off into the produce section to pick up a few tomatoes.
Marriage is a great compromise though, and sometimes that’s a difficult concept for me. But it’s working so far
Have you read “At Seventy,” by May Sarton? I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago as I was pondering my up-coming 70th year, thinking about how I might mark it. It occurs to me now that you might enjoy it, too, in the context of your 70-year journey. Sarton’s a great writer anyway, and i always enjoy her work, “Just because.”
The portrait of the grandmother is wonderful. I think you might have posted it before, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Something that good deserves to be shared more than once.
I had not heard of May Sarton. Unfortunately I have been missing out. I read your comment in the middle of the night and ordered the kindle edition immediately! Thanks for sharing it. I read the first page or two and I can see it will be lovely.
Yes, the Grandmother has been around before. As I said to someone, after a lifetime of painting you run out. It would be nice if I could come up with a few more—too lazy I think.
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How’s it going? Hope you are doing well.