Understand Mom, Understand Myself

Before getting to the material referred to by the title, I want to thank the Sound Gods for big, male cousins who run to their defenseless female cousins’ rescue when called. In this case, to move my bed so that I can put my real speakers on top of my headboard and lean them against the wall. I will have REAL sound after Wednesday and he can say a word to a certain “grabby” neighbor to grab something else besides me. Gotta love it!

I’m noticing more and more changes in my perspective now that my mother is gone. Of course it was she, more than any other person, who influenced me in both negative and positive ways. I will be forever grateful to her for teaching me how to use my intellect. She never copped to her own brilliance, preferring to say that it was my father who was the brilliant one. Oh, she’s definitely right about that! He was absolutely, stunningly brilliant and it kept him alive far longer than one would think given the vocation he had for most of his life.

Now, this is where my brain and heart part company. One says go for it and tell what he was and the other says, STFU. I think I’ll take the latter tack. I want to write my Master’s thesis on my father, so he will get his due one day. He’d be deeply ashamed that I knew more about who he was and why than he ever wanted. He was who he was and things were the way they were. I can’t judge him. He, however, judged himself far, far too harshly.

Be that as it may, Daddy had a very deep love for my mother and had from the time they were barely teenagers. He also understood her in ways no one else did. Her family pretty much hated him and that didn’t help at all. I can posit the greater family and many friends asking her why she was so in love with him. Yes, he was handsome. Yes, he was smart, but that wasn’t unusual. In truth, no one could swing a cat without hitting someone with at least a Bachelor’s degree and, frequently, a graduate degree, in Mom’s family as far back as the late 1910s. When I get that longed-for M.F.A., I will be the third generation in my mother’s father’s tail line and I think the fourth on his distaff line to do so. My great-uncles and my grandfather were the product of both violent Southern racism and the combination of two highly intellectual black families. Business and fear brought them North.

Mom was different. As brilliant as she was academically, she was a deeply gifted artist. It is the latter that I’m coming around to believing caused her to be misunderstood a lot of the time. I’ve misunderstood her and I lived with her for most of my life. Had her relatives been more open-minded about her artistic talent, I think she wouldn’t necessarily have seemed shy to the point of being ice cold. How many times can you justify a dream before wondering if your dream is foolhardy? She was a visual artist and a dancer. She spent most of her life in education. It was there that I realized how incredibly talented she was. There is no way I could ever hope to have half her ability to handle the most undiagnosed, but deeply disturbed, children she did on a daily basis. She teased the desire to learn out of them instead of throwing them away as many would. The thing is, she wasn’t even a special ed teacher. Her memorial service was a grand testament to a highly distinguished career. It could have easily lasted another hour but for a minister I could throttle. Believe me, I wasn’t alone. x:(

People who’ve known me for lengthy periods of time remind me that I’ve always been a writer. It’s not something I really give a great deal of thought. Writing is as much a part of me as the blood coursing through my veins. I remember the woman who was my best friend in college and for many years after we’d both graduated saying, “You’ve always written. Don’t you remember . . .?” Actually, one of the amusing memories I’ve had while looking for Morgan (that sounds like the title of a book and/or screenplay) has been remembering a rather surprised Marketing prof who returned a marketing plan I’d submitted for a fictional product with a good grade and a notation that said something like,”This is definitely one of the most unique products anyone has imagined in my years of teaching.” Well, I did float the idea to my female friends and we thought it would sell if it were real. Actually, only in the last few years have products like the one I’d described been on the market, usually by Trojan.

I have a fertile imagination at times and, so I’m told, a very different way of understanding and applying concepts. I was really glad to hear that recently because it meant that my law school experience had finally been changed from conformity to inspired. My general theory is that the law is a living, breathing organism that must change as society changes. While it may be a laggard at times, laws do change either through legislation or through case law. If one assumes that my theory is correct, then why can’t laws be applied in new ways for new reasons? If there is nothing prohibitive in legislation, then it may be possible to make the argument that the law is applicable in a different way. This is an area of law left to litigators, yes, but then handed to appellate attorneys who will inevitably end up before higher courts.

I phoned one of my mom’s besties for a zillion years to check on some information and to try to explain what is going on in my life. She’s a retired college professor and now spends most of her time writing. She’s also an ordained minister I wanted to officiate at Mom’s service, but couldn’t due to some crap about her not being Christian enough. If only I could get to arrange her service again, but I can’t. So in speaking with her, I confirmed the premise of this post. Yes, my mother was greatly misunderstood. Yes, although this friend wasn’t exactly a fan of my father’s, she confirmed that he understood her in a way few did. She also confirmed that I’m correct about something else by telling me how wrong I was about it. That’s not at all to say that she was wrong. She wasn’t. However, it comes down to perspective. Mine includes multitasking. Hers didn’t. Because I only have so much emotional energy to pour into my personal life; so much to pour into pulling a miracle out of the mess that is Mom’s estate (Where the hell is the money??), and; so much to throw into my own project, Mom’s bestie has an excellent argument. My head needs to be in the game and it isn’t yet. How can it be? I’ve just hit bottom and begun to scratch and claw my way up. I’m already exhausted from the effort, but not being able to keep anything down may have something to do with it too.

I don’t even waste my breath trying to deny accusations of those who say that I’m too cerebral or that I don’t travel a straight line to get from Point A to Point B. It’s pointless. I do, however, try not to waste people’s time. Sometimes that means speaking so quickly that I sound like I’m on speed. No, just trying to be considerate and forgetting that most people’s brains don’t work as quickly as I can speak. *shrug* When I get the inevitable, “Huh?” I go back to the beginning, explain that I’m trying to say what needs to be said quickly and continue from there. I must admit that there are days when I’d like to scream out of pure frustration that the listener doesn’t get it. I think that’s my real problem with Mom’s lawyer. He doesn’t get me at all and he’s a journeyman at best when he should be far more skilled and careful than he is.

As I said, I tried to explain what’s going on in my life and that meant Glenn and Morgan. Glenn doesn’t even know why I’m looking for Morgan, assuming he didn’t simply delete my e-mail. If he did, it would be a shame. For once I can say that I am truly satisfied with what I wrote to him. I’ve been able to put a lot of things together since Mom died, especially since I’ve spent hours navel-gazing these last few days. Some things simply made me sick because I was so freaking wrong in an effort to be both right and not afraid. I realized that I’d done to him the same thing he’d done to me. We were both wrong. What I couldn’t stand was the thought that one of us would die and leave so much unsaid. I have good reason to be afraid of that circumstance sitting on a shelf in my china cabinet. I also needed to have a fictional conversation with him in my head as I waited for word on Morgan. That, too, was the impetus for my letter. I know I’d be absolutely destroyed if I learned long after the fact that Glenn had been killed or died. No one in this world or the next would ever be able to console me. Take what I’m going through now and multiply it by ten and that might be an accurate assessment, but probably too low on the scale.

One of the things I wrote in my letter was an acknowledgement of the importance of the people in his life. He has a lot to lose by getting involved with me again. The potential damage I might unknowingly do isn’t worth it. Why would I want someone who’d hate me for ruining his life? I’d be crazy and I’m not crazy at all. I would one day love an acknowledgement of what he’s done to me. He’s never done so. There have been those who’ve said that, in and of itself, is grounds for punting my feelings. It’s just not who I am and I can only be true to myself whether anyone else likes it or not. That’s not to say that I haven’t reached the end of any attempts to verbally touch some part of him. Every time I’ve thought I had, something else crops up. Like I said, we’re in different situations. Nevertheless, two people who have to hurt each other so badly just to stay apart probably belong together. I can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. I needed him, and still need him, to help me get through the grieving process in a way only he’s ever been able to do. I don’t know if he’s realized how completely open I was to him. Actually, in many ways, I still am. If he were to ask me what I want at this very moment, I’d say hold me, let me cry and don’t let go. Absent the ability to do that, tell me what he’d do if he were here and I don’t mean sex. He never really understood, perhaps until fairly recently, the innate ability he has to bring out certain emotions in me.

Since hitting bottom the other night, I looked in the mirror and saw a different person staring back at me. In some ways, I think I’m much gentler than I’ve been in a very long time. I couldn’t continue to carry all that anger around with me anymore. I was really angry with Glenn, with my mother, with a couple of other people I’m trying to decide how to handle and with myself most of all. A lot of it is simply inconsequential now. I’ve said everything I believe needed to be said. I think I’ll ask another friend about Morgan and then leave it alone until the fall. If it’s still important, then I know the best next step. I’m hoping like hell it won’t be. I don’t think I’ve got enough tears left to cry. I “only” feel a deep sense of profound loss.

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