I'm going to wait until next week to write about my mom, because I woke up last night and thought about all the comments I've received here and decided to address some of them. I am also considering the nature of my desire for approval. It's an insidious thing: I promised myself when I started this blog that I would not seek out followers and that I would write only for myself. Easier said than done.
Some of the comments have been thought-provoking, and some people have asked questions I want to answer. I also realize that I have created an opportunity here that can lead to personal growth, if I am willing to do it out here in public like this. And with the anchoring comments of my brother and sister, I have pretty much stayed on a nice linear path, getting out the main events that have shaped my life.
I sometimes spent an uncomfortable couple of days thinking about how to write down the hardest memories to recall, the loss of Stephen when I was so young, and the loss of Chris much later in my life. The memories I dredged up of my failed marriages were also hard to think about sometimes. But once I got here, to the present day, the content of this blog began to founder. I'm here, now, and I need to steer this boat into the direction I want it to go. One can't do that without some serious introspection, I've discovered.
So this "time out" post is basically for me to regain the momentum of what I began here: to write for myself and to answer some questions that won't let go of me until I answer them. The intricate dance of blogging and getting feedback, sometimes immediate, has given me a unique opportunity. We are in a very interesting moment in time and space, because the explosion of blogging and the blogosphere (and its impact) is a brand-new phenomenon.
Nancy asked if I feel any less emotion about some of these events now that it's down on "paper." Yes, it feels different, but my emotions are apt to change from one moment to the next. When I think about Chris, I don't feel the same way I did five years ago, but something will remind me of him: a story of another mother's loss reminds me of my own; a laugh in a crowded room that startles me because it sounded like his laugh -- and the pain will come flooding back. Now it's like an old wound that has healed up imperfectly and I live with it, but I will never be like I was before the injury. That's life. It doesn't matter who we are, we have to deal with loss and sometimes devastation. Troutbirder left a comment about the loss of his son 17 years ago, and I could feel his continuing pain. It never really goes away, and it shapes who we have become forever.
About my paternal grandmother, Mommy. Two questions were asked that I ponder the answers to: why did Mommy disown her only daughter? And why did Robert, my grandfather, walk out on his family? I don't know. These events were discussed over the years, sometimes with my parents when they were alive, sometimes with my siblings. Kids hear conversations not meant for their ears and wonder about it. The truth is, I really don't know why my grandfather left, because my parents could only guess themselves. Daddy was twelve, and I do remember the tone of his voice when he told me about his father: wistful and sad. He missed having a father.
The rumors about Aunt Edith were of a different sort. I never met her (at least not that I remember), since she was long gone by the time I was old enough to wonder. But the story I remember was that she was married with two small children, and one day she ran off with her lover, leaving her two children alone in their house, no one to care for them. Just abandoned them. They were alone for DAYS before they were discovered. Is this a true story? I don't know, but I remember the communicated outrage by whoever told me about it.
One thing about having alcoholic parents: you would hear plenty of stories when you became the willing listener while either Mama or Daddy reminisced about the past and their own histories. Once, long ago, I remember my dad telling me that I have a sister the same age as Norma Jean, the offspring of a young woman he was living with while overseas on TDY. I don't know if it's true or not, or whether my mom knew about it. But the shock of hearing it has never left me.
By the time you get to be my age (in your late sixties), you will have many memories buried by the sands of time. Most of them, I am convinced, are still there to be dredged up and examined. If that examination leads to self discovery, then I am all for it -- although a tiny little frisson of panic rose up in me when I wrote that.
When I was a little girl, I remember coming home from my Brownie meetings to listen to my favorite radio show: The Shadow. I heard the theme song in my head when I wrote that down, it affected me that much. The show began with these words: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."
Maybe the shadow is what I felt just then.