Gloating, Crowing, and the Art of Being Gracious

Eating Crow From Bonnie’s Books

I had a conversation with someone recently about how we are starting to see and hear about people with strange and disturbing side effects from taking the vaccines. As two people in the small minority who chose not to have the vax, we discussed our feelings around this phenomenon.

In my heart, I know it is critically important that I am able to show kindness and have understanding for those who are suffering from physical ailments from getting the vaccination.

I feel this way even though most of these people did not extend any kindness or understanding to me – quite the opposite. (Read about my feelings on this here: Putting the Worst Swear Word in the World to Good Use and here: My List of Those Who Need to be Forgiven)

Yet I am sorry they are suffering.

My hurt is tempered with a growing sense of relief that I didn’t let myself get coerced into submitting to the vaccine.

We are all doing our best to survive during this weird time in the world.

Some of us tried to appease the authorities or go with the majority, just to get along. When I think of all the bullying and name calling and hatred blasted around at this or that group of people, I totally get it. Not everyone is used to being on the “outside” of society. Ya gotta be tough!

In any fight, there is never a true winner. Never.

Think of any conflict or battle that has ever happened – WWI? Sure, the victors who hadn’t lost children or parents partied and seemed to be happy – for a while. But because they so totally ignored and belittled a whole nation, it caused that nation to rise up in anger and resentment a scant 20 years later to start WWII where 40,000,000 – 50,000,000 people died. Was that WWI victory worth the death of so many people’s kids?

On a small, personal level, look at the Johnny Depp / Amber Heard trial going on right now. No one really wins when push comes to shove. Both parties end up muddied and bloodied with tarnished reputations. (And even covered in poop, as in this case!) They have already lost so much and now they are losing it all again publicly.

“There but by the grace of God, go I.”

If I had not had my family history as a reason to distrust authority – especially medical authority – I, too, might have “gone along to get along.”

My own ancestors showed so much resilience in their lives that it helped me to cope during the many tough months of ostracization. Because I know the stories, I can look at the whole arc of one of my ancestor’s lives and see what strength looks like and how it plays out. Often the decisions and choices made by my great-grandparents and grandparents led them to tough places where they had to make the best of things. This long view gives me a perspective that I lack in my own life, which is too immediate for me to view objectively.

The Grandmothers and the Great Aunt

I had a little Grandma who wore baggy dresses and aprons, and “puttered” in the kitchen almost constantly, the only place she had peace from my Grandfather. I guess having 16 kids just wore her down. No one ever cut her any slack and I never saw her have any fun.

She had over 50 grandkids and my Grandfather had her on the road in a small camper for much of the year so I didn’t know her too well. One time during their visit, she came downstairs to my room – she collected small bottles and I had begun my own collection. She saw my harmonica, picked it up and played a little tune. What?! My Grandma can play harmonica?!  

Her personality seemed submerged in domineering husband, church, and duty to family. To see photos of her as a young woman is almost painful for me because she looks so jaunty and full of the promise of life. Knowing what would happen to her over the course of her life brings me to tears. All her enjoyment and liveliness became slowly crushed under the mountains of diapers and menial tasks she performed over so many years.

Yet I am sure she would have told me it was worth it. By doing what she felt was right and raising all of her children she could have the satisfaction of knowing she did her best.

I am realizing just now that I came close to doing as she did in my own life.

For me, though, I felt a deep sadness that I would not get to “live” my own life. I don’t know if my Grandma felt that sadness. I do know that her heart began to give out. She told my Mom that she was just “tired.” She died shortly after that, in her 70s. What saved me from that life is a well-paying job that let me be independent of my husband.

To be clear: I am not sure that leaving that life was the best course of action but it is what I chose to do. That path was certainly full of self-sacrifice and martyrdom. But really? I have never wanted to be a noble heroine. I am at heart a simple creature, who enjoys my own company more than anyone else’s. There. I’ve said it.

I also had other examples of strong women who lived alone to influence my thoughts and behaviours.

My refined Gram dressed neatly in slacks and blouses (no ruffles for her), lived in a high-rise, and golfed into her 80s. She had her own car, travelled to visit grandkids, and kept up with many friends. She also took a special interest in me, for some reason. I loved her with all my heart.

I used to go to visit her in the summer, taking the Greyhound bus all the way there when I was 8 years old, a trip of five or six hours. Once she met me at the station in a cab! I thought that was the most marvelous thing. She would always let me push the elevator buttons to get up to her apartment, too.

We’d go grocery shopping shortly after I arrived so that I could pick out some food to eat. She was a notoriously terrible cook but I never noticed. One time at the store she asked me to go and get a jar of peanut butter. Anxious to please her, I ran to the aisle and grabbed a jar but in my haste it slipped out of my hands and smashed on the floor. I was mortified.

I found her and told her what I had done. Without any hesitation she called a grocery worker over and haughtily told him to clean up the mess. She wasn’t even mad at me!

My Gram argued with her sister regularly.

Her sister, my Great Aunt Gertie, had never been married. She lived in her own little house with a fat cat named Lou. When she was a young woman she’d had a lump removed from one of her breasts. Because she was “defective”, she’d been assigned to look after their mother after she’d had a debilitating stroke. My Dad was terrified of his Grandmother as she’d hit him with her cane if he got too close. That nasty old lady lived for over 20 years, taking Aunt Gertie’s youth with her to the grave.

What a life path! All self-sacrifice and martyrdom.

But was it? From the perspective I have now, in my 50’s, Aunt Gertie’s life is starting to look dang fine! She lived on her own and did what she wanted. Aunt Gertie loved to travel on “mystery bus tours”, often with friends new and old. She had several “adopted” grandkids like me, who would be shared with her for a week or two in the summer. I loved visiting her. Aunt Gertie would take me by bus (10c which I got to put in the slot myself) to the Pacific National Exhibition. My Gram wanted no part of this seedy carnival, the dirty animals, or noisy hawkers of all manner of terrific ephemera. Aunt Gertie and I explored the whole thing twice over!

What does it mean to be gracious?

For those of us who have been on the losing end of the mandatory vaccination fight over the past two years, it is interesting to see the tide turning. It is hard not to say “I told you so” when we hear friends or neighbours grappling with the ramifications of their choices. Any physical or even emotional distress they feel must be made worse by their having to admit that they may have been wrong to “jump on the bandwagon” without question.

If we begin “crowing” about how we were “right” all along, the formerly pro-vaxxers may stubbornly stick to their assertions that the vaccine is “safe and effective”.

It helps to remember that we have ALL been thrown under the bus of corporate greed.

Maurice Crowing for Freedom!

Those who continue to “crow” may be harassed and even persecuted, like Maurice! Ultimately, Maurice was vindicated and allowed to crow away to his heart’s content, even at dawn.

Better to stay sympathetically silent as the masses chew and swallow their crow. Or you may end up in the stew pot!

After all, they are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our friends. There is no victor in this war. Like I said, there never is.

One day I might be a Grandmother

I must be careful that the choices I make now are ones that I’d like to be remembered for. When the stories are told about my life, I’d like them to be about how I was able to make difficult decisions that reflected my values. This is what helps me to hold my head high and have few regrets. I’d like my grandkids to gain courage from my life story so that they are less afraid to walk their own paths.

I hope they study the history of our ancestors. Who better to teach us the importance of showing grace and feeling compassion for those that choose differently than we do?


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