Saturday, August 29, 2009

Talk Thursday: Postcards of Our Life

I started this with one thought in mind and woke up to erase the whole thing and start anew. Thank you Fii, Psam, and Steven your responses to my last post are the reason. That and what my cousin is going through.

People who know what I think, know it’s all about the journey to me. Heck, I blog about my journey enough. As Psam was growing up I suggested she question everything she didn’t understand, that didn’t work for her, that she opposed. Believe it or not I think I got this from my mother.

The practice got Psam kicked out of Sunday School. Why? I believe and she can correct me, she questioned the Sunday School teacher when she said Mormons, Catholics, and Jews have a different God than “we” do. Is that right, Psam? I was livid, called the minister and asked him in my (I’m sure) best non-confrontational voice (yeah, sure) “What happened to our Father In Heaven being a loving and forgiving God?” And he said – I swear – “Where does it say that in the Bible?” There are very few things that make me see red faster than a fucking, flippant, ignorant reply like that. I will not get started on Bible teachings here. Especially paraphrased Bible teachings, but let’s just say, Psam never when back to that church.

Postcard number one – “Question Authority or Don’t feed the locals.”

When I was growing up my grandfather would bring me down to the beach (they lived in Balboa) and I would spend weeks there during the summer or weekends during the winter. It was awesome every morning my grandfather and I would walk from his house up the bay to the bakery and buy doughnut holes, walk out to the end of the pier and talk, eat the holes, and watch the fishermen and their poles. My grandfather rocked.

On the other hand I didn’t fit into my grandmother’s scheme of things. Born to a life of privilege my grandmother gave me the impression life had given her a raw deal. (side note: My grandmother was raised by her grandparents, my great grand grandfather was Robert E.M. Cowie one of the founders of American Railways – he adored and coddled his granddaugher Fee, he made my great uncle Bob’s life hell on earth.) My cousin JeannieBeth was her favorite they spent hours beading together, cuddling, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. I tried the beading on Saturday afternoons, but by Sunday my grandmother had more than enough of my company and made my grandfather’s and my life living hell until I was gone. My grandmother died one April day 17 years ago - I felt bad for my grandfather, for JeannieBeth, and my aunt. I know she’s at peace now.

Postcard number two – “Life isn’t fair, you just have to be fair.”

I’m no charming person myself, I have plenty of skeleton bones in my closet, tucked under my bed, buried in the back yard. I can name most of the ones in the backyard: my beloved Kya, at least one cat Bentley, Psam’s pet bird who danced when ever Wilson Phillips came on, and a bunch of snakes I buried in absolute fear (please don’t tell me they can dig their way out I am happy in this ignorance.) The ones in the closet and under the bed are different stories. They are the things in the past that I have hopefully grown from, but fear others knowing – especially my mom. They are the cruelties I wreaked on others because being mean was “funny at the time.” God, isn’t that pathetic? I would take back those moments in a heartbeat, apologize and use the rest of my life to make them right some how. The thought of those actions brings tears to my eyes and grief to my heart. But their memory and shame also makes me who I am today.

Postcard number three – “Where we’ve been is who we are.”

I have done some terrible things in my life, but I think I have also done some kind things, some wise things, some smart things. One of the wise things was to regret and to learn. Another was to embrace the people in my life and love them eternal.

Postcard number four: “It’s all about the journey”

When I was a kid I was envious of my friends who had great relationships with their cousins, all mine were either much, much older than I or lived very far away. So Judy, my friend from down the street, and I began telling everyone we were cousins, I think I was nine and she was seven. To this day she is still my cousin and while there is 1000 physical miles between us she is still in my heart and daily thoughts. When one of us needs the other is just a phone call away. Her mom, Aunt Mabel, is dying of kidney failure and suffers dementia. Jude is her support and care system, but because she’s not built for the extensive demands of 24 hour care and the ravages of dementia the situation and demands are eating Jude alive. She gets no help from her crack addict brother, but her somewhat estranged sister is coming in three weeks to help. Everyday I count my blessings and my own mother’s mental and physical health.

I give Judy all that I can and while the help I offer comes too late, my house will be her haven when her mother finally passes. I haven’t walked in her shoes, but I’ve done private care, it ate me alive. It ended with me taking my client to the hospital and giving up, I was shunned by the medical community in which I’d once worked. I pray for Jude, her mother and what they are going through together. While it was my sister who was with my dad at his final breathe, I got to spend quality time with him in the months before his death. And I was with him and my mom in the dark hours the night before his passing. By far it wasn’t enough. My heart goes out to Jude.

Postcard number five: “Communicate, Appreciate, and Validate your love and relationships” borrowed from John Edward.

See I’m not the unflawed person I make myself out to be. Ergo, my last postcard:

“Judge not, least ye be judge.”



Psam said...

So I’ve always been a wiseass. I think it’s genetic. At about 13, I was attending a certain church because 1) my wise mother let me go to whichever church I chose, and 2) because I had a friend that wanted me to attend with her. During Sunday school they were teaching us that to go to heaven you have to be baptized “their” way. And I said, “so only *blank religion* goes to heaven?” “Ohh no,” says the Teacher, “that’s not what I said.” I quickly went over her statement in my mind. “You said that to go to heaven, you must be baptized “this” way, and that *blank religion* is the only one that does that. Therefore, only *blank religion” gets to heaven.” Again, “Oh no, that’s not what I’m saying…”

We went round and round for several minutes because, well I’m a shit and I don’t let things go, and I love to see ignorant people make idiots of themselves. (It’s an entertaining fault to have.) Finally, and quite irately she exclaimed, “I guess if you want to nitpick, that is what I’m saying.” I smiled sweetly and asked, “Well Jesus was a Jew, so where does that put Him, cuz that’s where I plan on going.” I was promptly asked to leave and not come back until my attitude changed. Ummmm, that day is yet to come.

I never knew that my mom made that phone call – but I knew she was proud of me. I’m appalled by the number of people who weren’t blessed with a mother that encouraged them to question, challenge, and discover for themselves. Sure I’ve hit a few bumps along the way because of it. My mom never believed children were to be seen and not heard. She taught me to think before I speak and by listening to others you challenge your own beliefs, learn other view points, and further define your own.

I am truly blessed.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo Galilei

foundinidaho said...

What a nice daughter you have. And, what a good mother you are, obviously. I hope my kids say things like that about me some day.

Lucid Dreamer said...

Postcard #3 was had a particular resonance for me. JulieAnn told me to check out your blog. I just started mine.

Cele said...

Psam - damn you make me sound inspiring, what have you been drinking?

Fii - I'm pretty damn lucky, good daughter, good friends, great grandson, and wonderful husband.

Lucid - Welcome. I do reply, sometimes I'm just tardy. Number three is a mantra of my life.