Imperfections

I don’t remember what exactly we had planned for the day.  We drove north, and stopped where the woods and the river met.  We walked around in the woods enjoying the soft breeze.

Soon we stopped.  We hold each other, I am standing against a tree.  We kiss.  I feel shy, knowing where this could be going.

In the dappled sunlight, I am not ready for you to see my flaws.  But so many years later, I realize you saw my flaws and didn’t care.  It is only me that can’t stop thinking about my imperfections.DSCF2630

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Say My Name

oldIt is has been several year since I left this world.  My spirit feels restless, I don’t feel settled in my home up above.

We shared fifty years of married life.  You were the only one to ever call me Annie, everyone else called me Anna.

We met one day as teens the day I took my brother fishing at the lake.  You lived the next town over.  I think I loved you the moment I met you.  After high school was over we married, and just about a year later we had our first baby.

I’d never really thought about doing anything else with my life, being a wife and mother was everything to me.  I’d had five babies and I still relished my role.

Some people thought I was a bit simple, relishing a kid’s first day of school or lost tooth or trying to perfect your favorite pie.  Those were happy days for me.

One day a cold shadow seemed to enter life in our small town.  A pale woman with lizard eyes seems to always be on the periphery.  I see you talking to her after church  and at the town festival.  I know as a banker you see it as your role to be friendly to all but this seems different.

I hear whispers.  I wonder what is happening when you say you are working late.  I don’t ever confront you.  I will never say the lizard eyed woman’s name.  I don’t speak to the lizard eyed woman.  I pretend she is invisible.

But just as I feel the situation is getting intolerable, the lizard eyed woman’s husband decides they are moving to another town.  I hear the lizard eyed woman’s husband is mean, but to me he is a kindred spirit.

After they move, I do my best to forget the cold shadow the lizard eyed woman left behind.  Our children marry.  I get lost in the weddings and grandchildren that seem to happen every few years.

Our family gathers together.  I hear my name…Annie, Mom, Grandma.  It brings me joy to hear my name.  I don’t feel quite right that day, but I take comfort in the hugs of little kids.  The very smallest child there can’t yet say my newest name…great grandma.  I get to hold her for the longest time.

After that day I still don’t feel right.  We see the doctor, he says my time is getting shorter.  As everyone comes to my home to visit, it all seems bittersweet.  As the time gets closer I hear your sister say that you and I will meet again someday in heaven.  I can’t respond to her but the words bring me comfort.

I’ve left this world.  As people mark the end of my life I hear my name…Anna, Annie, mom.  I see my physical body in the ground and I am told my spirit must leave this world.

My spirit is unsettled.  I know everyone, including you must move on with their lives.  I don’t object to you finding comfort in the arms of another, until I see it is the lizard eyed woman.

Our children sense you have changed somehow.  You delay telling them about the lizard eyed woman.  But then she insists that everything be out in the open.  She is now your wife and takes your last name.  I guess she has forgotten the last name she shared with her own kids and their father.  From that point on the children will never see you without her.  The children all whisper amongst each other…the oldest try to piece together old memories of this woman.

I see the traces of me in our house start to disappear.  The afghans I had crocheted, little knickknacks I had collected along the way.  Even our most recent family picture is gone.

It is time for Thanksgiving, this time at our granddaughter’s house.  You say you won’t come with out her.  Conversation at the table turns to holidays of old.  Laughter.  I hear my children talk about me, “mom”.  My spirit warms.  But then there seems to be an attempt by you to change the subject, as if everyone should forget the family history. She with the lizard eyes purses her lips in disapproval every time an old memory comes up. I feel cold again.

I’m not sure my spirit will ever be at rest until you will freely say my name, you allow your children to speak freely of me and I know that I am not forgotten.

What to write, what to say

Day 10 of NaBloPoMo. Will I make it through all thirty days?  I hope so.  I can’t decide what to write today.  The daily prompt doesn’t really speak to me.  I don’t want to write a very long post.

I can’t believe this year is going so fast.  The holidays can sometimes be a bittersweet time for me, but I’m looking forward to them.  I’m not looking forward to colder temperatures and snow though.

Recently we were at a family gathering involving my husband’s side of the family, plus the family of one of the spouses of his siblings.  Does that make sense?  Many of the people know most everyone gathered there, but there are still introductions to be made.  My husband’s mom passed away a few years ago, and his dad is now remarried.  At the time of his remarriage, most of the grandkids were over eighteen.  Some were married and had kids of their own.  All of the grandkids had a very close relationship with their grandmother who had passed away.

The woman he remarried, I’ll call her Jane.  I would say that most are cordial with Jane, but not looking for a motherly or grandmotherly relationship with her.  My husband and his siblings all knew Jane to some degree growing up as someone who lived in their town.  Some had mixed impressions of her before she ever married into my husband’s family.

I get the impression that Jane wants to be seen as some sort of family matriarch.  I don’t exactly understand this because she has her own children and grandchildren where she could be directing that energy.  Jane has made snarky comments about other’s housekeeping or cooking while she has been at my husband’s family member’s houses.  She’s tried to tell me what I should tell my husband in an effort to manage the relationship between him and his dad.  No thanks.

While I can say I had my own differences with my husband’s mother, she was really viewed as the heart of the family by her kids and grandkids.  This seemed to be more evident after she passed and my father in law’s energy seemed to change.  Whenever he was around the grandkids he seemed to always be worrying about Jane.  He didn’t seem to wish to interact with the grandkids if it meant excluding Jane, he seemed be me more of a watcher, rather than an active participant.

Still following?  Here comes the awkward part, the part I don’t quite understand.  As we are making introductions, the grandmother from the other part of the family that is there says “I’m so and so’s grandmother” .  Then Jane says “I’m his other grandmother”  I thought to myself….no you are not.  His grandmother is in heaven.  No one here sees you in a grandmotherly way.  Do you know not have any sensitivity to  your husband’s deceased wife’s children or grandchildren?  Of course father in law says nothing.  Of course many people in attendance know that she is not related by blood to her husband’s children or grandchildren, but not the particular person she is talking to at that moment.

This is not my battle to fight, I’m just an observer.  I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t hear the part about “the other grandmother”.  I’m not sure what the rules are supposed to be in a situation like this.  Do Jane’s feelings reign supreme?   Do the feelings of my father in law’s children and grandchildren matter?

Well that was quite a rant.  I hope it wasn’t too confusing.

Window and Walls

I’m revisiting my days as a younger woman again here.  I’m thinking back to how I often formed walls, perhaps not consciously, to keep people out.

In a post I wrote recently I spoke about a time when my life seemed to be falling apart.  I’d dropped out of school, but had stayed living in the college town, amongst all my friends.  One day these friends were like family to me, but over time things seemed to change.  I felt people treating me differently.  I felt as if I’d have to walk a narrow line to keep their friendships.  If I paid my rent late, well it be the talk of the town.  Better not wear a tight skirt..your long time friend will tell someone else it makes her “uncomfortable” when you wear clothes like that.  Go to a party with your friends that are still attending college…meet new people, and feel as though you are being silently judged for dropping out.

At this time, my relationship with my family took a major hit as well.  Sometimes I wonder if that should have been the end, the first time they’d rejected me for not following the script they’d set out for my life.  My parents had a very old fashioned view of life.  They basically believed, even though I was of legal age, that I was not to be treated as a fully functioning adult because I’d been born a girl.  Does that sound crazy to you..it does to me.  Surprisingly though there a lot of people out there who still believe such nonsense….and they even blog about it!  And they believe their brand of Christianity says this is the way to be.

So after that point, for many years in the future, to get along with my family I could only show them slivers of my life….my true self was locked up behind a wall.

It wasn’t just with my family that I started to close off though.  During this ordeal one of my friends told some half-truths to my parents.  That was just devastating to me.  I started closing off more.  The friend who’d blabbed to my parents…during this time I’d stayed quiet about how she’d cheated on her boyfriend(someone well-known to me)while he was out of the country and become pregnant with another man’s baby.  I wonder why I’d kept her secret all this time when she couldn’t be a loyal friend to me.

When I look back and think about the sorts of men I was always attracted to, they were always people who tended to be more quiet than loud.  Men(or boys) with a bit of mystery about them.  Never the class clown types.  I’m not sure why I always attracted to these types.  At this point in my life I do know that I would be just exhausted if I had married someone who couldn’t shut up.

These quiet, mysterious types of course always came with a drawback.  I’d always wanted someone who could open a window to my soul, to understand me…well of course because I was quiet and shy as well, I wanted someone else to do the heavy lifting.  Taking a risk to expose my true self to someone was scary.  Letting someone else see my dark sides…even scarier.  But I desperately wanted someone to open that window, and love me, dark sides and all.

Well even though it was perhaps a process, and the journey was far from complete on our wedding day, I think my husband and I do this for each other.  Love isn’t just about seeing the sweet sides, it is about acknowledging the bitter and sour elements in our partners as well.  Accepting that we’ve each made mistakes. Accepting our quirks, accepting our struggles as well as our victories.