Getting to know a dead woman is not an easy task. There are things I will have to sacrifice like my sanity in order to reconnect with the people who knew her well. My family being at the top of the list since I am unable to recall if any of the friends she made are even still alive. Spending time with the people to me genetically is a borderline dangerous task as they have an uncanny way of making me feel empty.
Who am I ? what is MY story? Can I tell my story without first getting to know my mother’s story? The answer is the same for the first two questions and all I can simply say is that it is all a work in progress. I have to get to know my mother’s story because her story is ultimately my story and how I came to be. Although I know and admit that it is not that simple or neat. I know that MY story is my own and I am responsible for all of the choices I have made and all the miles I have crossed. There is a line in a movie or tv show( I want to say Divine Secrets of The Ya Ya Sisterhood) where one of the main characters says “It’s in the past” and the response to that line is something to the effect of that it is not the past…that past is stamped all over our lives..that is exactly where I am. My mother’s family dynamics, her history and her choices, all of it is stamped all over my life and the lives of my children, it is a hard truth to escape. I have decided that finally it is time to deal with that lingering elephant in the room. It is time to get out the shovel and resurrect the past once and for all.
Complicating this matter is the question of where to start? I did not have enough quality time with the woman who gave birth to me to have a firm grasp on who she was. I can recall things about her like she smoked like a chimney ,drank her coffee with cream and no sugar and blamed the man who got her pregnant for her lot in life. I do not have a clue as to what her hopes and dreams were, if she had past loves or much of a life before I was born. Truth of the matter is I know she had a life, she was thirty-two years old when I was born, there had to be a lot of living in the years before that. I am unable to reach out to my father because he is gone in more ways than one. I am unable to go back and search in the old neighborhood because most of the people who knew us have either moved on or have died. There is the pool of relatives but many of them are dead or dying and communication is not our strong suit. My mother did not leave behind much evidence other than me that she once existed on this earth.
Sadly there are aspects of my mother that look me in the mirror every day. I do not resemble her much physically, but as i age I am seeing glances of things I remember. I am in many ways intensely private and unless I have alcohol in me, I do not open up to anyone except maybe my therapist. I have things in my life that I would rather not deal with. I can keep a secret. I can hold a grudge with the best of them and I know that I have withheld my children from their family. The last part is not entirely my fault, my family had a lot to do with that as well.
I do also recognize I am the editor of my own pages and I am also different in many ways. I am independent and that is something my mother was never able to accomplish in the years that we were together. I drive a car, I own my home along with my husband , I got married, I have more than one child and I am an active participant in their daily lives, I am college educated, I am financially stable…
The question still lingers..who am I? I am a very frustrated forty two-year old woman who has spent a life time making sure the true needs of everyone around her are satisfied before tending to herself. I am someone who tried to fill up on things like food and possessions (things that I lacked growing up and desperately wanted) to make myself happy and in the end it was never enough because as usual I have always wanted more. I am finding that more does not come from owning a Burberry purse or designer shoes or eating at the best restaurants I can afford. more has to come from a place deep inside of me. More has to come from that place where I finally am able to merge the past and the present and have a better understanding of what it all means. More is raw and honest and more must be about ME.