Located in the small North East Texas town of Bogota (pronounced Buh-Go-Tuh) – we’re country people, every vowel is soft – my inner child had to preserve this moment via blog.
Spending every weekend with all the people I deeply love has opened my soul in new ways. Growth doesn’t just happen individually. Though it’s incredibly sad we have been unable, for a million different reasons, to bring everyone together when it does happen it is unbelievably satisfying.
These are my people, my family, my ancestors, my history. They shaped me; I model my own aspects of motherhood around the things they taught me. Aren’t we always watching?
After a powerful and heartfelt dialogue, the truth came crashing down on me. For all the years I’d been so focused on justice, the fact of how much my father truly loved my siblings and I was overlooked. It had gotten jumbled up with the negative emotions, with the heaviness of grief. Who knows? Maybe this is the next step toward forgiveness. While my second cousin (a necessary detail because of age differences) sometimes seemed to be sucked into his own grief and recollection of dealing with the literal aftermath of his youngest cousin’s suicide, a valuable lesson of stepping up and doing the right thing was not lost on me. Although the details were painful to hear, even after all these years, the weight of tragedy that has befallen our family is such to renew a commitment in always making sure my family, and others, feel they are not alone.
My uncle looked up to my father; he was devastated by his death; his own kind and patient demeanor just couldn’t get past my dad being gone. He felt somehow responsible, from my understanding, that he wasn’t there for my dad, but I know even if my uncle had voiced these feelings to others he wouldn’t have easily believed he was in no way tied to his older brother’s decisions. But that’s how guilt works, isn’t it? It isn’t always the black and white of actual guilt, it’s the perception of what we believe. That psychology degree is coming in strong today. All this being said, the past cannot be changed but I can clearly see some valuable lessons for the future.
As stories were told regarding the sacrifices my father made for us children and his “perfectionism” – their words, not mine! – I understand even more why I am the way I am. I will say I have admitted to having such lofty expectations of others based on my own value of being a perfectionist it makes life difficult at times. But I’m really trying to curtail the urges. Sometimes the proverbial skeletons in the closet make way for more coats, umbrellas, and miscellaneous crap relegated to a dark space. Every family has them. But the willingness of those who choose to face the uncertainty, tell about it, and answer questions can not be minimized. I’m so blessed to have this time with my brave aunts, cousins, and great aunt. Their stories are memorialized in my writing albeit gray and very parallel to all the other lines of randomness. It’s a blog, not a dissertation.
Admittedly, during the hardest moments of conversation, I found myself re-centering my thoughts on what I could touch and feel in a very literal sense. My fear was that by becoming invested in another’s memories I would take on those feelings as I so often do. The reminder I am not a rescuer circled in my mind; I think I did well because I was able to stay removed even when sobs threatened to explode from my cousin’s chest. Later that night there was a self-congratulatory moment for being brave and refraining from the immediate desire to run away. It’s funny (only to me, I’m sure) how I’ve been desperate to hear these recounts yet also a little panicky I won’t be able to appreciate them. How can that be? I’m the most accepting person I know! The small nods to my father’s cooking skills, his desire to encourage our schoolwork despite his own childhood struggles with dyslexia, and his exceptional housekeeping goals are a testament to things I deem important still. Please don’t take this to mean if you can’t cook well, hate education, and suck at cleaning I dislike you or we can’t be friends. I just may not visit often. Kidding! And as I write, errr type, these lines, I realize so clearly I’m the apple who didn’t fall very far from the tree. In closing, this lengthy post has gone many directions. Perhaps you have chosen to locate any italicized sentences and only read those for a daily dose of humor then move on with your business. Fair enough. However, for any who have stuck with me until the bitter end, thank you.
I ask you –
Do you have a family storyteller or history re-liver?
Hope you all have the most joyful Thanksgiving! This year may be quite different than all the years previously, but there’s thankfulness to be found in every single day. Wishing you and yours the best!