There was never much of what today we call “Word Art” in my house growing up. Mostly what hung on the walls were paintings by my paternal grandmother, who preferred to paint in oils and was a bit of a folk artist, although she’d taken some classes over the years. Her best paintings were seascapes, as she lived in Maine and went often to the coast to sit and paint when the weather was good. She would freely admit that she couldn’t paint people in correct proportions, although there’s a couple of charming watercolors of me that she tried hard on when I was little.
This morning I finally took the time to look the quotes up. The Love quote I knew was one of my favorites from First Corinthians – “Faith, Hope, Love abide, but the greatest of these is love.” The Faith quote, I learned, was from Edna St Vincent Millay – “Faith can break the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.” Yawn. How hokey was that to a teenager? The third one, Hope, came from Alexander Pope. In the version on the wall, it had absolutely no punctuation and read “Hope springs eternal in the human breast Man never is but always to be blest.” This drove me crazy on a number of levels. Just look at all the ways you can punctuate that thing. Have fun. I also hated the idea that according to this we were NEVER blest. Say what? I live in a nice house, I have great parents, I go to an excellent school, I’m smart, I have a cute boyfriend, and you’re telling me I’m not blessed? That if I’m really lucky, I might be blessed sometime in the future?
I put up with the other two quotes, but I begged my mother for years to take that Hope quote down. We had many an existential argument over it. She liked it. I offered to actually cross stitch her a different quote about hope. Offer refused.
That quote was still hanging there years later when my father sold the house. Dad asked me if I wanted those pictures. I just laughed. I didn’t need the yellowing paper and plastic frames – all I have to do to see them is close my eyes. I’m thankful for all the love I received and the faith I learned in that little house. And I still don’t agree with Alexander Pope. I’m blessed every day I’m alive.