Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sunday, September 4, 1977

(Got a little sidetracked with the start of school and the fact that The Moon broke his wrist...)

Psalm 97

Got up medium. Showered, dressed. Took a walk to the A&P (
and here I tried to recreate the logo) Supermarket. Boy. The candy they have here, a whole aisle of it. Then - cookies, cake, bread! Came back. Ate. Watched Laurel and Hardy. They were sure funny. Rested, and watched TV. Ate supper, washed up. Put on pjs. Went to bed. Thank you, Mr. O, Thank you.

Yup. I was really impressed with the candy aisle.

The weekly summary said:

"A nice week. shocking on Saturday. Still, we did a lot. And we saw Colour Television for the first time. Thank you, Mr. O. We had a nice week."

Note the British spelling of the word "colour." I still do that sometimes, spell stuff like "theatre", "favour", and "grey".

I suppose here the Professor will chime in and say how really it wasn't a "nice week" and that it wasn't fun at all. But I think the Professor is still at the stage in life where things are what they are and that's that. She hasn't gotten to the "forgiveness point." I hit that point around the time I turned 40. I found great strength and comfort in "forgiving".... and I'm not a Christian chick at all. Mostly, I'm wholeheartedly an Old Testament "Eye for an eye" type chick and I'm not even remotely unsure about that stance. BUT. Sometimes, when you forgive, and gain understanding, you can let it all go and move on. You don't forget... and forgiveness is certainly NOT the same thing as "absolving" someone of some wrong they did. Doesn't mean you feel any more loving towards them. It simply means you can leave that baggage at the train station and move on. You don't have any animosity anymore, which in turn allows you to leave the pain and hurt behind. Which is a great thing, because by carrying that weight around, you're still giving the wrongdoer (or event) power over you. And you run the risk of absorbing the wrong that was done to you, and it can become you.

However.

It was a rough week, that week. A HUGE week. It altered the course of our family history. It was painful, and scary, and revealing... but we had each other and our little family bubble bounced through that rough week together. Like we had done at times before, and like we did at times afterwards.

"Sometimes the lights all shinin' on me; Other times I can barely see. Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip its been."
- Grateful Dead

Jerry Garcia didn't know the half of it. I often wonder why we were put on this journey. Why us? What is the purpose ("is", I say, cuz we're still on it)? I still have faith in God, but back then it was a lot more implicit than it is now. Maybe because I'd had such bad asthma, maybe because I knew what it was like to feel you could die. Maybe, it was simply because I was a child. As long as I was breathing, and my parents and my sister were there, I was OK. What happened with the grandparents didn't hurt me, particularly because we were never all that close to "Mamabelle" to begin with. It made me jaded, certainly. It made me mad, too, because I didn't like the way they treated my mother at all. But my dislike was more at my grandmother than my grandfather, because I loved my own mother so intensely I couldn't imagine trying to love someone who didn''t love me back. I couldn't understand how Grandmother could be so cold to her own kid. Unfathomable. She was cold to us, too... but only because we were an extension of my mom; visible, darker proof of the choices my mother had made. But she was very very nice to other members of the family. We have cousins that she loved way more than us... showered with gifts, went to visit. We were an afterthought. Over time, I realized though that she couldn't love us back... it just wasn't there.

My grandfather on the other hand, was the epitome of "DO YOU, Boo." All he did was himself... he didn't make allowances for anyone. He looked out for whoever got to him first, or whoever paid him what he wanted (time, attention, money). He did some great things out of that, to be sure... but in his personal life he tended to be off doing his own thing. He also was a "man"... and left things like family and family affairs to "women". Too bad Grandma was so bad at that.

All those realizations took time, though. Years. My mother refused to go back to Chicago once her father had passed... not even to pick up the few things she could have sold. Me... if I could drive I would have "just because", but it wasn't that important. Nothing in my grandparents lives really pertained to us--to me, to my "everyday". But on the other hand... their blood, their heritage runs through my veins and I was fascinated by them and what made them tick. More than anything I am fascinated by the fact that they were so obviously Native mixed, but denied it thoroughly and were so fiercely "Black".

I know that I inherit who and what they were. "...For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me..." we read that phrase every week at Sabbath Service for years and years. Over time I came to understand that phrase as saying that as adults, unless we really stop to think about our parents and grandparents actions, and how that affected their children, we run the risk of repeating it, passing it down to our kids and their kids.

I do have my grandmother's tendencies; I can be judgmental, unforgiving, regimented in my thinking. Through my mom, I inherited her taste for stylish things. But when she died, I sat in her closet reading her pain, watching her handwriting disintegrate with the progression of her Alzheimer's, and I realized that I didn't want to be like her. I didn't want to let pain and disappointment make me into a bitter, jaded person. I didn't want to stay in a relationship that didn't make me happy. And so I make it a point now to see the human, to look for the bright side, the way I did when I was a child. We recover from things so much quicker when we're kids... at the moment we are going through whatever we're going through, we are only reacting. As time goes on, and we "heal", how we approach our healing determines the type of scar we'll carry.

I know that a lot of scars I carry are rooted in 1977, and this one week in particular. It's been interesting to "rehash it" and revisit it. But I admire that I was determined back then to not let it get the best of me, to rejoice and to find the good in it, no matter what. Hell, it can ALWAYS be worse. Sometimes, it even GETS worse... and it did, actually. This week was only the beginning.

But, at the same time, here I am now. I'm 42. I still like my family... all of them--most of the time. We can all still be in a room together for a few hours and mostly get along. We all live within a half hour of each other. Poppy's eccentric, Bigbear is, well, Bigbear, the Professor is a little snappy, I'm a little self-contained/narcissistic, the kids have some issues but on the whole, we turned out alright.

The Joke's on Grandma. Cuz we had more than she ever did...

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