A person is a sum of many parts, of all the lives they’ve touched. There is no all good, all bad, we are many spirits interwoven into one giant one. My mother had a giant spirit. Personality Plus. A lot of heartache and drama; also a lot of joy even if she wasn’t always aware of it. And sometimes we weren’t.
But looking back, I remember the way my two year old son’s eyes lit up, overjoyed to see my parents walking towards us at the county fair — a surprise trip from Cape Cod to Vermont.
My mother and I fought a lot, said cruel things, but there was always love, a connection that I couldn’t break no matter how hard I tried to break the apron strings. Heck, I’m still tied to my Dad’s and I’ve never even seen him in an apron.
But my mom. I was lucky to have her. I had her for fifty more years than she had her mother. She was seven when my grandmother Lottie Mae died. It defined her life and it defined ours. She was fierce, possessive, couldn’t let anything go, perhaps because she lost the most precious thing to a child at a very young age.
Lately, I’ve been re-inspired to try blogging again. I’m not kidding anyone but myself to say I wouldn’t like to engage in conversation with a kindred community. I love it in the real world, but I realize it can also be enjoyable in the virtual world. However, finding bloggers who resonate with me is sometimes difficult. There’s really only a handful. And sometimes, the ones I once liked I outgrow, usually because I find the writing voice becomes hollower, echoing more and more as their popularity soars with a particular audience’s voices, until soon, they all start sounding the same. I get bored quickly (and somewhat uncomfortable) with too much of that. I love sharing the things I get excited about, be it a book, a blog, British comedy, local travel, women’s history, life. Which brings me to Milla. She’s a Finnish girl who married a Bear and lives with him out in the great northwest woods. She’s a real person, writing about all the things I like — basically just sharing the sh*t friends share without getting into marketing what is essentially the role friends once played in our lives. What I wore, what I baked, where I went, oh the stars are beautiful on this brilliant winter eve, what I believe, what I read, listened to, thought. All that was real and true before it became about a brand and money. Because, unlike what the title of the book proclaims, I do care what my friend had for lunch (but more especially, breakfast, because, you know, I like breakfast more). I might not remember it by tonight, but I do care.
A woman I loved once said “ifs don’t count.”
But, what if…we were all born with our expiration date tattooed on our butts? How would we live? How would we live in relationship to each other? Would we use more care, pay more attention? Would that date imprison us or set us free?
Sometimes if you want a relationship with someone badly enough, perhaps you have to settle for it on their terms, so long as it doesn’t mean allowing yourself to get beat up. This is how it is with my mother. I can’t totally shut her out of my life and yet her toxicity has had a huge affect on my life. I don’t want to blame, but I do want to break free and live a life of joy and wonder. But how do I find that life? I am still searching. In the meantime, I think I do not want to have regrets when my mother is gone — regrets that I could have done more, visited her more, called her more. I’ve tried at one time or another, and I have had some good memories with my mom, but there is also a lingering melancholy that persists and sometimes it drowns me. I want joy and wonder. I am not sure where to look for it. But this is how I feel today. Tomorrow I meet my childhood girlfriend and the sun is supposed to shine. And that is one place I will find that joy.