My two children lived in many places growing up. We moved seven times before the divorce and then once after the divorce.
They started life on the coast of Mississippi, in a small town called Waveland, MS wiped clean by Katrina. My son was born in Bay Saint Louis; my daughter in Gulf Port.
Yesterday I would have said I could not remember the beginnings. I lied. I remember all too well like it was yesterday. Perhaps that is why I cannot talk about some things too painful too remember.
My children may not know where home is because I called the Farm in MS home, but in my humble opinion, I think they would consider Huntsville home because they spent from 1970 until they left for college here; their father left during this time as much my responsibility as his, to a certain extent. Will the truth ever be told? I do not know his truth; I only know the burdens I bear.
They graduated here; they spread their intellectual wings here; they became who they are a here. I tried to instill honesty, integrity, truth and always to be true to their inner core values, never forgetting their roots.
Was I a good mother? I did my best, but fell short. I had to work but the time I did have did I spend it wisely? No, not as I could, should have. You know those “should oughta’s.”
Was I a good grandmother? No, I do not think so. I did not have a good model to follow. My grandparents tolerated me. My maternal grandmother did not like my mother’s second husband because he was not his brother.
Besides my paternal grandmother always made her feel less than, her pride covered up very well that they were not as well off as purported. Many stories were not true. They sounded good but the truth, well, I may never know. I think I have started looking at the realities in a new light, because perhaps it was their truth. Does it make it true? No, but what is truth except someone’s perception of what they believe.
My paternal grandmother also tolerated me; she did not like my mother who had married her first son (I think) and he died with appendicitis leaving my mother and two of his children without a home. They put her out of the home that was built for her and Dave and gave it to another child…Uncle Lucius and Aunt Myrtle. Later when they moved it became Aunt Bert’s and Uncle Claude’s.
Daddy was the last son and loved my mother, no matter that she cared less for him than her first husband, his brother. My daddy tried to love his children and treated them as his own. I cannot say they returned the favor but I was the last child and reminded Mother of Daddy and also every time his mother, Grannie Annie, looked at me she thought of Daddy.His mother did not care for him as much as she did the dead brother, but is that not always the case…the absent child…the one that will never be back…forever?
I was not an easy child. I think it was because I felt no one cared so I acted out. Therefore, there was no model for me to follow. There were no cookies waiting for me at either grandparents house; burnt or not. I only knew how to cook blacked bottom cookies.
I think my mother loved me in her own way but not like her first three. There was not a model for being a mother, either. Mother cooked and sewed and made me things but were the things a substitution for love? Will I ever know? Not now. Not ever. The time is past.
I loved my two with all my heart. More than my husband. I now know that. They were not physically perfect which made me love them more and probably was the reason behind many of my choices in life. I still make those choices based on their needs. My life is not less than because they are not here; it is more; they have become successful adults of whom I am very proud. I made them independent and told them they could be and do anything they wanted to be if they wanted to bad enough. I taught them right and wrong, even though I sometimes did not set the best example. There are many things I wish I could “do over” but there are no do overs and I wonder if there is forgiveness for those things that I did or failed to do?
I wonder if I abused them in any way. We spanked our children in those days. Did I hit too hard? and for the wrong reasons? I was mad at me or them?
This morning I woke up knowing that if anything ever happened to them this is where I would want to be. The place I now call home even though that Farm will always be the place I long to be, however, without major help and major money, I cannot live there alone. Probably not even with major money. It is very isolated, however, I love that land more than I love this land. It is a great hiding place but in reality there is no place to hide these days.
We moved to Weir when my son was a baby. We stayed the two years while Fred finished his degree in Math at Mississippi State University. At the end of two years we found the problem with our loveable, funny son and life changed forever. While I was taking a course called Effective Grammar and Creative Writing (I seemed to have forgotten the grammar and the creativity) the doctors found the congenital birth defect and my son and I were in the hospital for three weeks.We were told he would live a year. Upon leaving the hospital, we went back to Waveland to live in his Uncle’s house. I resigned from my teaching position to take care of my son.
My daughter was born a year later and after six weeks, my son and I, the day after his third birthday, went to the University Hospital once more…July 5 and stayed there until the week of Thanksgiving. We were told he might live 5 years.
I saw my beautiful little daughter once during this time. She was a chubby, happy child and lovely. I sometimes wonder if that first six weeks kept us from a deeper bond. I could not be in two places at once so I had to choose. She was in the hands of two loving grandmothers and a loving Aunt, so I thought this would be enough. Maybe it was not. Will I ever know? They are no do overs.
Then we moved to Clinton where my husband had secured a job with the Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, where we eventually moved. He kept a position with the Corps until he retired, unlike me who changed every time we moved. It was easier to keep the many visits to the doctors at the University Hospital living closer.
After this, we moved to Huntsville, AL where we both still live. He had a second wife; two perfect children; then a third wife who had already had her family. I married again; a scientist, he said but he turned out to be a pathological liar and abused me emotionally as did my first husband. However, I must thank him for the Federal Annuity I receive from this marriage.
I was not beautiful; I had a great figure; somewhere the face got lost; the genes must have played out in making my beautiful sister and two handsome brothers, so my husbands tried to make me over to their liking. It did not take. I was who I was and still am.
Boston was delightful in August of this year; my daughter, son-in-law and grandson were gracious and I looked at a few apartments but found nothing. Being conflicted that I would be out of place, yet loving Boston, I decided I should move so that I might somehow get to know my now 11 year old grandson. I realized on this visit that I, once again, had missed his childhood and it was probably too late. They lead a very busy life and where would I fit? Would I be lonely there? That existential loneliness that overtakes most of us at one time or another; that longing for things not known and the hopefulness of finding answers we do not have a need to know. Knowing that you don’t know can be enlightening.
Perhaps I do not have family here but I have at least four or five friends. I know lots of people and the town is familiar. I stay in the Valley, very seldom venturing out to new places on the other side of town. I am happy enough here but is one ever completely happy? Usually not until they leave and realize what they left behind, yet going back does not bring back what you had before. There is a starting over, so to speak. Life goes on while you are living, not watching, like the trees that seems to grow up overnight and yet you know you planted them as a stick just yesterday. It catches you unaware and time slips quietly through the cracks of running from here to there to get to here again.
This morning, I am home recouping from a sinus infection which is not unusual because the Tennessee Valley is known for being the sinus capital of the U. S. The Valley traps all the pollen and we all keep the infections. Even the air space is infected as you arrive back home from a place where you could breathe easier. It is still home, so you wheel your bag from baggage claim and head back into the heat and humidity because this is home. You learn to take the medicine and live with the pressure within your head for the months of summer and fall.
My son thinks I would not like Boston in the winter.
My daughter thinks I would be fine.
What do I think? When I walked into this house in 1978 and bought it on the spot I said: “This is where I will die.” I think that was the intuitive part of me that knew I had found my place in a world of many ideal places. This was my place where I would raise my two children and hoped that they would visit me as they grew older and would come to understand what my struggles were all about…that one day I could tell the stories…that one day I would not be the outlier.
I wish I could write as I did once but as yet it has not returned; maybe this over long post will help to bring back that love of writing outside my head and heart spilling onto the blank paper. Every night I write beautiful stories in my head. In the morning, they have all disappeared.
I took great photos at one time. I gave that up as well. Today I shall look at all my old cameras and think of a new easy one I will love carrying again and not just use the iPad and iPhone.
If you have read this far, thank you. If you did not make it to the end, thank you. I am grateful I sill have my faculties about me; that I can exercise and work even at 76.5 years and I always look forward to your life and stories. You fill a void that even you do not know about because I fail to tell you.
Hopefully, I, too, can change that aspect. Opening the screen door; letting the breezes cleanse the soul and the body will heal as well.