Giblets in Heaven

On Thanksgiving, the year my grandpa died, I was in the kitchen with my Ma, making dinner. We were nearly done. The bird was roasted, the potatoes mashed. She was making the gravy. Hers was always silky smooth and full of rich turkey drippings. As she had always done, she started chopping up the giblets, which if you are lucky enough not to know, are the guts that come in a little paper bag tucked inside the raw bird. Given a cute name to mask their nastiness, the liver, heart and gizzard are intended for the nearest cat or dog and never meant for human consumption.

“You don’t have to do that,” I said.

“What?”

“Giblets. Nobody likes giblet gravy but Grandpa. He’s not coming.”

It was one of those family epiphany moments. Grandpa was indeed not coming. We loved him and missed him but now that he was gone, we no longer had to torture ourselves with giblet gravy, something we had all silently endured for decades. Perhaps our reward for grief was freedom from giblets?

I am grateful for the absence of giblets in my gravy, ever after, amen.

Helen Reddy left us at the end of September. I hadn’t thought of her in years; now the lyrics of I Am Woman are running through my head nonstop.

Yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything

The song came out in 1972 and quickly became an anthem for the women’s movement. I was nine, just becoming aware of myself as a woman, so what I heard was ‘I Am Almost Woman‘. By the time I hit puberty, most of the bra-burning had passed–even though the ERA never did. It mystifies me that so many people managed to sleep through the revolutions of the 60’s and 70’s. From my perspective, the glorious repercussion of the protests and sacrifices of so many women is that I have never had any doubt of my right to equality in society or my ability to do just as well as any man.

I am grateful for that.

At the end of October, Sean Connery died. I’m not a huge Bond James Bond fan, but he certainly had the physical presence and self assurance the role demanded. And he had the enviable distinction of being one of the few men who got more and more handsome as he got older. Not to mention that he looked wicked good in a kilt. It is icing on the cake that the SNL celebrity Jeopardy sketches featuring a foul-mouthed and sarcastic Connery look-alike are beyond brilliant and keep me nearly wetting my liberated pants.

I’m grateful for that, too.

Which brings us to Alex Trebek. Trivia brings me joy. My head is so crammed with it that I can’t remember practical things like my Netflix password or where I left the car keys. I am a certifiable HOT, Hoarder of Trivia. Jeopardy brings me an almost sensual thrill; the lights, the cameras, the nerds and, above all, the answers and questions, the answers left unquestioned. I’ve always admired Alex’s dedication. After hosting Jeopardy for a whopping 37 seasons, he left the stage for good earlier this month. I have always wanted to believe that he was as smart as he seemed and not just reading off cue cards.

Thanks, Alex. You did good.

While I was trying to absorb those significant losses, I got an email from Duke Fightmaster saying that his lovely wife Lesley, one of my all time favorite yoga teachers, had passed away suddenly. She was barely 50, had celebrated her birthday just a few months ago.

Lesley’s final class was Yoga for Gratitude, published posthumously the day after she died. It is 45 minutes of Hatha intended to cultivate our sense of thankfulness for all the good in our lives and our world. This morning I lit a candle and left the world to its worries as Lesley’s gentle voice brought my mind and body together with each movement, each stretch, each deep, slow breath. At the end of the class, I sat up, touched prayer hands to my head, heart and lips…and melted into tears.

Lesley constantly reminds us that it’s not about the pose, not about how it looks. It’s about how it feels. And her voice is pure chocolate syrup, encouraging without pushing, always ready to laugh at herself when she messes up left and right, in the world rather than on it. She is a beacon of peace, an island of calm, warmth and gentleness in a world spiraling toward chaos, seemingly intent on its own destruction.

I’m sending gratitude to you, Helen, Sean, Alex, Lesley. I hope there are no giblets in heaven, except for you Grandpa. May your giblets plentiful.

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