Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When the Memoir says to rethink it

It's waking me up in the middle of the night again. It nags and nags and says I can sleep later. It says this story is about someone else other than me. And Mama rides the night, pestering, bugging, waking me up. I find her less than frightening now, more intriguing, certainly more honest. She says it's her story not so much mine, and I am suspecting she's more right than wrong. Her story determines what mine is/was/will be.

We know whole bunches about her era, for the Depression and World War II dominate the current curiosities of the time. And we are beginning to know the minds of those men who lived that particular hell, and only a little bit about those women who waited for them to come home again, so life could move on again, so they had their identities back again, for in that time, there is where their identities those men, returning or not. Only problem was, those women who participated in the support of the nation while its men were off trying not to die, were discovering themselves, their abilities, their potential, their trap.

So in the dark corners of the night, I''m learning Mama. Not just her enormous imprint on my life, not just the damage she did with her choices, not just my gratitude for the strengths I possess, but her. What made her who she was and how she got that way Not just the enormities she had to overcome as a very young widow with two kids and one coming, and not just the terrifying time of war and depression with those burdens.

Finding the essence of a woman who permitted no true knowing of her inner workings, is like trying to commune with the dead, but that is not so scary, for she is alive and well in the place where I keep her. Only her bones reside in the ground.

I must look at her straight on and make my peace with who I thought she was and who I am discovering her to have been, and not just in my mind, but in her place, her personhood. I must look at her is if she could be your mother, not mine. Someone separate from me, who made me, molded me, denied me, refused me, feared me.

Who are you, Mama? As I dust and clean the rooms of my heart and reassign you to new quarters, I have the unique gift of new discovery as I peel your layers back to finally recognize you as who you were and then to discover who I am, and why.

I already know this about you, woman: you were one determined, overloaded, monumental-strength female whose life assignment would try the best of us today. Your work was beyond anything I have been called to do. What energy would you have had left to enjoy your kids? Your marriage? Your own life when everyone else's overrode yours? And still you were the most selfish woman on my horizon, more than likely self-absorbed at a level necessary for self preservation. Build the story with me, Mama. Otherwise I can't tell my own.

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